Alwaght- Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will likely meet representatives from Afghan Taliban militant group during his visit to Pakistan starting on Sunday.
Reuters cited two senior Pakistani officials as saying the crown prince is likely to meet Afghan Taliban representatives in Islamabad, where the militants, say they are due to meet US representatives and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Though it is top secret so far, there are strong indications representatives of the Afghan Taliban will meet Prince Salman during their visit of Pakistan on February 18,” one of the Pakistani officials in Islamabad told Reuters.
A senior Taliban leader in Qatar said no decision had been made on whether they would meet the crown prince.
“Actually meeting Prince Salman is not in the plan so far but we can discuss it when we are in Islamabad,” said the Taliban representative.
Bin Salman was set to visit to Pakistan on Saturday but has been postponed amid widespread protests against him as well as heightened tensions in the region.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said bin Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday, but have no further explanation over the postponement.
The crown prince, , who will be accompanied by a delegation of businessmen, is expected to stay to leave Pakistan on Monday after signing a raft of investment agreements in the energy sector for more than $10 billion.
He will also travel to neighboring India, which is engaged in renewed tensions with Pakistan over a deadly car bomb attack in Kashmir, which is 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.
‘Do not allow bin Salman in Pakistan’
Protesters took to the street after the 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.
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.