Govt to enforce tight security for Saudi crown prince’s visit

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–Airspace over twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad to be closed over the weekend, cellphone services to be partially blocked

–Over 1,000 check points to be set up in Pindi and Islamabad, heavy traffic won’t be allowed entry for two days

 

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to shut down the country’s airspace and partially block cellphone services in Rawalpindi and Islamabad over the weekend during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s upcoming two-day visit to Pakistan.

The Saudi crown prince is visiting Pakistan on February 17 on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Crown Prince Mohammad will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation, including other members of the royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen.

During his stay, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will be signing a number of agreements and MoUs related to diverse sectors, including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports.

According to an Arab News report quoting Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the crown prince will be the first state guest to stay at Prime Minister’s House.

Fawad Chaudhry said the crown prince’s own security team would be guarding PM House during his stay, alongside on-duty Pakistani security officials.

As part of security measures planned for the crown prince’s visit, there will be over 1,000 check points set up in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and law enforcement officials will be posted along the twin cities’ main routes, from which heavy traffic will be barred for two days. The metro bus service will remain restricted to Rawalpindi, according to reports.

Additionally, shoot-on-sight orders have been issued for drones and other remote-controlled aviation toys, the sources added.

Arab News reported that Saudi security and intelligence officials are expected to be present across the capital for the two days that the crown prince is visiting.

The Islamabad Expressway will be shut for the VVIP movement, while the route from Koral Chowk to Faisal Avenue 15 u-turn will be shut down at various times.

Murree Road ─ from the Faizabad Interchange to Serena Chowk will remain closed, while Shahrah-i-Dastoor will be shut down from Radio Pakistan to Serena Hotel.

Traffic from Peshawar, Kahuta and Murree will be diverted to an alternative route, the sources said.

SAUDI MINISTERS GET AUTHORISATION:

Ahead of the trip, the Saudi cabinet authorised the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources and his deputy to conclude talks and sign MoUs with Pakistani officials for the development of renewable energy projects, studies into investment opportunities in the petrochemical and recycling, and mineral resources sectors, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage was also authorised to discuss and sign an agreement for cooperation in the antique and museum fields with the Department of Archaeology and Museums, the Gazette report added.

Crown Prince Mohammad is expected to call on President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his trip.

The Saudi ministers accompanying him will meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.

On the sidelines of the visit, businessmen of the two countries will also meet to discuss opportunities of collaboration in the private sector.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News that a reception will be hosted in the crown prince’s honour at President House. The prime minister, army chief, all top ministers, bureaucrats and important personalities in the country as well as members of the royal entourage will be in attendance, he said.

Additionally, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will co-chair meetings of various joint working groups, including those on trade, investment, energy, science, information, and media.

MBS will leave the country on Sunday to travel onward to India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.