ISLAMABAD: At a time when Pakistan is under immense global pressure to combat terrorism, the country's cash-strapped government has gifted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a gold-plated assault rifle, according to media reports on Thursday.
The unusual gift for a visiting foreign dignitary was presented to Mohammad during his first official visit to Islamabad. The News International reported that Pakistan's Senate delegation called on the Crown Prince at the Prime Minister's House where Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani gifted him a portrait of himself and a gold-plated submachine gun.
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a submachine gun developed by German engineers, and this modified weapon has an elaborate pattern engraved on its gold-plated components, CNN reported. The Prince is also Saudi Arabia's defence minister.
Presenting the Saudi Crown Prince with a weapon will likely raise eyebrows at a time when he has been embroiled in controversy over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered at the country's consulate in Istanbul in October of last year, CNN said.
The Crown Prince travelled to Pakistan, India and China widely seen as an attempt to bolster ties and improve the kingdom's image after a troubled year, the report said.
In a similar gesture from the cash-rich kingdom in January, Saudi Prince Fahd Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, also the Tabuk Governor, presented a gift of 'gold Kalashnikov' and bullets to Prime Minister Khan at the Prime Minister's Office here. Khan had thanked the Saudi leader for the gold-plated Russian gun.
The Saudi Crown Prince's just-concluded high-profile visit to Islamabad came in the midst of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. The attack was carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The international community led by the US has pressed Pakistan to deny safe haven to terror groups operating form its soil and bring the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack to justice. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed a slew of investment agreements worth USD 20 billion which will provide a welcome relief to the teetering economy of the cash-strapped Pakistan.
Pakistan is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund a multi-billion bailout package to overcome the country's financial instability. China, Islamabad's close ally, has also offered financial aid to the country. Pakistan Monday conferred its highest civilian award Nishan-e-Pakistan on Salman for his "outstanding support" in reinvigorating the ties between the two countries.