ISLAMABAD -  The country's top leadership including the prime minister, the army chief and the defense minister are likely to visit Saudi Arabia soon before a top Saudi dignitary visits Islamabad later on, The Nation has reliably learnt.

On November 26, Riyadh is going to host a conference of defense ministers belonging to the 41-member countries of the Saudi-led coalition against terrorism. Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan is likely to represent Pakistan at the summit.

Following an invitation extended by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz recently, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa are also in the row to take a visit to the Kingdom.

It is likely that Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar and some other senior officials will also be part of the delegation.

The army chief and the ISI chief are likely to visit and witness the second joint military drills, Shehab-II, being carried out by joint special forces of the two countries, which will take place in Riyadh .

During the visit of top Pakistani dignitaries, the prime minister and the army chief are likely to hold meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

The upcoming conference of the defense ministers will come up with a future strategy not only to curb terrorism from the region but also to curtail the influence of Iran in the region, especially in the Middle East.

It is expected that during the coming summit, Pakistan will also be taken onboard by revealing the role meant for it in the 41-member counter-terrorism coalition.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not ready to clarify the country’s role in the Saudi-led counter-terrorism coalition as the former adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on various occasions had said that the scope of Pakistan’s participation in the alliance would be determined once the ToRs of the grouping were finalized.

On the other hand, former army chief Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif has been given a key role in the Saudi-led counterterrorism coalition despite the fact that the ToRS were yet to be finalized. 

According to the sources, a high-level Saudi dignitary is likely to visit Islamabad to hold discussions with top Pakistani officials to strengthen the growing ‘love-affair’ between Islamabad and Riyadh .

–Anwer Abbas is a correspondent for Waqt News