Cash-strapped Pakistan seems to be extremely grateful to Saudi Arabia for the $20 billion investment that the kingdom has agreed to make in the country. And in return, Pakistani senators are said to have gifted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a gold-plated gun on Monday, February 18.
Developed by German engineers, the Heckler & Koch MP5 is a submachine gun and features a lavish and intricate pattern and many of its components are gold-plated. Along with it, the crown prince also received a portrait of himself, a source at the senate told CNN.
The 9x19mm Parabellum submachine gun is said to be a personal defence weapon and was first developed in the early 1960s. It has been in service since around 1966 and has about 100 variants. It is one of the most popular weapons and is widely used by military, intelligence, law enforcement and security establishments in over 40 countries.
Meanwhile, Pakistan gifting a gun to prince Salman, especially at a time when he has received major flak for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, may not go down too well with many. In fact, his visit to Pakistan, India, and China itself is being seen as a sort of damage control for the hit his image has taken since the killing.
While Saudi Arabia has, on more than one occasion, said that the prince had no knowledge of the journalist's killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, it is widely believed that Khashoggi was eliminated on the orders of the prince. The journalist has been a vocal critic of the prince and his policies for a long time.
Speaking of the message Saudi Arabia wants to send to the west, James M Dorsey, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, explained that the prince just wants to show that he isn't an "international pariah."
The prince wants to show that he still has "international access and he can function... as the most senior representative of Saudi Arabia beyond the king," Dorsey explained, according to AFP.
Echoing his thoughts, Li Guofu, director of Middle East studies at the China Institute of International Studies also said that visiting the west is currently "inconvenient" for Prince Salman, but this are different in other countries.
"Not travelling to the West does not mean that he cannot come to the East. Saudi Arabia is also making strategic adjustments, and Asia is the new main direction of Saudi diplomacy," he said.
Prince Salman arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, February 17, and received a ceremonial welcome in the country. Along with all the gifts, he was also given Pakistan's highest honour, the Nishan-e-Pakistan (Order of Pakistan), by President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan then signed an array of investment deals worth $20 billion. The leaders of the two nations reportedly signed seven agreements and Memorandums of Understanding, with Pakistan hoping that these deals would pull it out of a huge financial crisis.
Prince Salman then flew back home to Riyadh and arrived in India on February 19, and met PM Narendra Modi and several other dignitaries to discuss trade, investment and counter-terrorism. He is now in China for the last leg of his Asia tour.