Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to seek an additional package of USD 3.2 billion from Saudi Arabia during his ongoing visit to the Kingdom, media reports said on Thursday.
Shehbaz Sharif, who starts his three-day visit to Saudi Arabia today, will pose this request to avert further depletion of Pakistan's foreign currency reserves.
"Today I am embarking on a visit to Saudi Arabia to renew & reaffirm our bonds of brotherhood & friendship. I will have wide-ranging discussions with Saudi leadership. KSA is one of our greatest friends & as Custodian of the Two Holy Places, has a special place in all our hearts," Shehbaz Sharif tweeted.
Saudi Arabia had already given USD 3 billion deposits to the debt-ridden country and an oil facility on deferred payment worth USD 1.2 billion during Imran Khan's tenure. Estimates say Pakistan requires USD 12 billion to prevent the balance of payment crisis and further depletion of the foreign currency reserves.
"We are going to request the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to increase the amount of the deposit from USD 3 billion to USD 5 billion and double the Saudi Oil Facility (SOF) from USD 1.2 billion to USD 2.4 billion, so the total package could be increased up to USD 7.4 billion during the visit of premier Shehbaz Sharif," top official sources confirmed while talking to The News International on Wednesday.
Dozens of officials and political leaders have accompanied the Pakistan Prime Minister on his maiden visit to the Kingdom.
After Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) raised questions about the modalities of the visit, Pakistan's Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb responded on Monday, saying Shehbaz Sharif would travel to Saudi Arabia at his own expenses.
She slammed PTI leaders for spreading "lies" about the trip set to take place later this week. "Contrary to lies being propagated by PTI, Prime Minister will be travelling to Saudi Arabia later this week on a commercial flight at his own expense," Marriyum said on Twitter.
Earlier on Monday, the newly-elected Pak PM presided over a meeting here to review preparations for his official visit to Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting, he said that Pakistan valued its long-standing brotherly ties with Saudi Arabia and it was looking forward to enhancing the same in future.