For a country running out of foreign reserves, facing a yawning current account deficit and fighting to secure its financial future, Pakistan is putting on quite a show for Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
And it’s easy to see why: Prime Minister Imran Khan needs money, and he needs it fast.
MBS, as he’s known, is coming to town promising billions.
But money is just one dimension of a relationship that goes much deeper.
Pakistan was meant to be the first stop on an Asian tour taking in five countries but the crown prince’s trips to Indonesia and Malaysia have been postponed. He is still scheduled to visit China and India in what is being seen as a charm offensive by the controversial prince.
How lavish is the visit?
The last time a Saudi royal visit was marked with this much fanfare was in 2006, when then Saudi ruler King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz toured the nuclear-armed nation.
And security is being taken seriously – with Imran Khan making a point of saying that he is personally taking care of the arrangements.
JF-17 Thunder fighter jets will escort MBS’s fleet on Sunday as they enter Pakistani airspace – with all other flights grounded.
Hundreds of five-star rooms in Islamabad are believed have been booked out for the 1,000-strong delegation. There are even reports that thousands of pigeons have been caught for a welcome ceremony.
Pakistan sells off ex-PM’s prize buffaloes
The Pakistani government, which last year organised an auction to raise money by selling off its fleet of luxurious cars, has arranged 300 Toyota Land Cruisers.
And for the two-day trip, the Saudi crown prince will stay at the official residence of the prime minister – something that no state guest has ever done before.
Source: BBC NEWS