Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan has been 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.
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.
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 change in bin Salman’s planned visit was announced after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that those behind the bombing will have to “pay a heavy price.”
New Delhi accused Islamabad of harboring militants behind the Thursday’s attack, which was the deadliest bombing in three decades of bloodshed in Indian-controlled Kashmir. India says it has incontrovertible evidence of Pakistan’s involvement, a charge Islamabad dismisses.
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.