PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia

MEDINA: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in the holy city of Medina on his first official foreign visit, amid speculation he may be seeking economic assistance from a staunch ally instead of another IMF bailout.

Upon arrival at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Prime Minister Khan was received by Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah Region, and a number of officials.

He visited the Prophet’s Mosque and greeted Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and his two companions.

 He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar and some other cabinet’s members.

During his visit, Premier Khan will call on King Salman and hold a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss regional and international issues.

The king will also host a state banquet for the Prime Minister at the royal court, said an official statement.

Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen will also meet the prime minister Imran Khan. Pakistan is a leading and active member of the organization.

The prime minister will also perform Umra and pay a visit to Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH). The prime minister along with delegation will later arrive in Abu Dhabi in the evening on September 19.

In 2014, six months after Pakistan obtained its last IMF bailout, Saudi Arabia loaned Pakistan $1.5 billion, which the government used to strengthen its rupee currency.

Pakistan’s current account deficit widened 43 percent to $18 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30, while the fiscal deficit has ballooned to 6.6 percent of the economy.

Khan’s government came to power on the back of populist assurances to root out corruption and reduce poverty. Since taking office, the government has initiated a number of symbolic austerity measures while promising social welfare reforms.

The government on Tuesday announced tax increases for middle and high-income earners and a spike in import duties on luxury products in a bid to raise 183 billion rupees($1.48 billion) in additional revenue.

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