IranPakistanSaudi Arabia

Troubles of ‘Rich Guest’ for Pakistan, from Protesters’ Detention to Cyberspace Crackdown

Pakistan has adopted special measures, including massive presence of police and security forces in Islamabad streets and filtering a number of social media networks, to stop protest rallies against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the country.

The Pakistani interior ministry announced that over 19,000 Facebook and 20,000 Twitter accounts which were likely to protest at Bin Salman’s visit were blocked.

The Pakistani security forces have also banned riding motorcycles with two or more passengers and protest rallies and enforced Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Islamabad that allows imposing curfew.

Many leaders of popular and political groups who were likely to protest at the MbS visit have been arrested and the Pakistani government has declared Monday as an official holiday to prevent traffic in the capital.

Also, the exact time for bin Salman’s arrival has been kept undeclared to prevent protest rallies and gatherings.

Pakistani media said bin Salman’s visit was delayed to avoid massive popular protests and dismantle opposition gatherings.

Pakistan’s Ummat newspaper wrote that the government is hosting 1,100 companions and servants of bin Salman, which it described as “unjustifiable”.

Other media reports also cautioned that Saudi Arabia aims to downplay the role of China’s economic corridor.

The Pakistani government has also put on alert over 2,000 security forces, has issued visa for 130 royal Saudi guards for Islamabad visit, reserved 8 luxurious hotels to accomodate the MbS entourage, and missioned a special team to protect bin Salman.

Pakistani activists believe that although the Saudi crown prince has promised to invest up to $20bln in the country, the expenses of his visit are not justifiable in economic terms.

The Pakistani people in different cities continued rallies for the third consecutive day to protest at the visit by bin Salman to Islamabad.

The protestors who carried banners reading “we are opposed to the visit by murderer of Yemeni people and Jamal Khashoggi to our country and he is not welcome” called for calling off the trip.

Many Pakistani cities, including Karachi and Lahore, have witnessed protest rallies against the MbS’ visit to Pakistan.

Meantime, the Pakistani government is attempting to display that calm is prevailing the country as the MbS arrives in Islamabad.

Pakistani people believe that Saudi Arabia is trying to coax Islamabad into playing a role in Yemen war, warning that bin Salman’s presence will strengthen the terrorist and extremist groups.

Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in Rawalpindi, Northern Pakistan, calling on the government not to allow the Saudi prince into the country.

Leaders and activists of different parties and organizations as well as political and religious figures attended the rally.

Demonstrators say bin Salman has been behind the killing of thousands of people, including the people of Yemen.

During the visit, the crown prince will hold talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and President Arif Alvi, according to Pakistan’s foreign office.

The prince, who will be accompanied by a delegation of businessmen, is expected to sign investment agreements worth billions of dollars with cash-strapped Islamabad.

Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan was postponed amid widespread protests against him as well as heightened tensions in the region.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that a two-day visit by the crown prince to Islamabad that was scheduled for Saturday had been postponed.

The ministry said bin Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday, but had no further explanation over the postponement.

He will also travel to neighboring India, which is engaged in renewed tensions with Pakistan over a deadly car bomb attack in Kashmir, claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The last time a Saudi royal paid a visit to Pakistan was 2006, when then Saudi ruler King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz travelled to the nuclear-armed nation.

Authorities heightened measures across the capital Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan saying he was personally taking care of the arrangements.

Bin Salman’s tour to the region comes at the time of increasing pressure against the kingdom over the humanitarian crisis, which is caused by Saudi’s four-year war on Yemen and the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate last year in Istanbul, Turkey.

Back to top button