Pigeons and balloons as Pakistan prepares for Saudi crown prince’s visit

A banner in Islamabad welcomes the Saudi visit. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2019

Pigeons and balloons as Pakistan prepares for Saudi crown prince’s visit

  • Islamabad is hoping to sign a raft of investment deals and other agreements during the crown prince’s visit

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan was rescheduling flights, blocking off luxury hotels and, according to one report on Friday, collecting 3,500 pigeons and colorful balloons to release during a welcome ceremony for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Islamabad is hoping to sign a raft of investment deals and other agreements during the crown prince’s visit, which will include talks with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Banners heralding the crown prince were already lining the streets of the capital on Friday, while the Express Tribune newspaper reported that authorities were trying to catch so many pigeons for a welcome ceremony that they were
forced to collect birds from other cities.

Police, the armed forces and the Saudi Royal Guards will provide security, said a senior Islamabad police official.

The capital’s “red zone,” which houses Parliament House and the presidency, was to be sealed off, while civil aviation authorities have been told to reschedule flights during the crown prince’s arrival and departure.

Officials said that Pakistan had taken measures to ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are in place ahead of the royal visit.

“The main security arrangements have been handed over to the army,” said Islamabad Capital Territory Police spokesman Naeem Iqbal. “The police will assist the army and ensure a smooth flow of traffic in the city.”

A traffic plan has been devised to avoid congestion on the main roads, he added. 

When asked about the deployment of police personnel, he said: “Around 4,000 personnel have been deployed in the city. All the important locations are manned, including the entry and exit points of the federal capital.”

Iqbal added that 1,200 security pickets were being set up at different points of the city. Authorities in the capital said two five-star hotels had been ordered to cancel all advance bookings as the rooms will be reserved for the crown prince’s entourage.

Local media reported earlier in the week that his personal belongings, including luxury vehicles and his own gym, were flown to Pakistan in two C130 airplanes.

The crown prince is expected to sign a range of agreements worth up to $15 billion, including deals for three power plants in Pakistan’s Punjab province and an oil refinery and petrochemical complex in the coastal city of Gwadar in Balochistan province.

“We’re working with full speed on technical and feasibility studies for the establishment of the oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Gwadar … and will perform the ground-breaking by early 2020,” Pakistani Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told Arab News.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman said that Islamabad is seeking to sign a number of other deals, including one “combating organized crime.”

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are participating in talks with the US and other countries seeking to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with Kabul after more than 17 years of war.

Preachers of Hate: Arab News launches series to expose hate-mongers from all religions

Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

Preachers of Hate: Arab News launches series to expose hate-mongers from all religions

  • Daesh may be defeated, but the bigoted ideas that fueled their extremism live on
  • Campaign could not be more timely, with a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Christchurch attacks

RIYADH: Dozens of Daesh militants emerged from tunnels to surrender to Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria on Sunday, a day after their “caliphate” was declared defeated.

Men filed out of the battered Daesh encampment in the riverside village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border to board pickup trucks. “They are fighters who came out of tunnels and surrendered today,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Jiaker Amed said. “Some others could still be hiding inside.”

World leaders hail Saturday’s capture of the last shred of land controlled by Daesh in Syria, but the top foreign affairs official for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region warned that Daesh captives still posed a threat.

“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Abdel Karim Omar said. “Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation.”

 While the terrorists have a suffered a defeat, the pernicious ideologies that drive them, and the hate speech that fuels those ideologies, live on. For that reason Arab News today launches Preachers of Hate — a weekly series, published in print and online, in which we profile, contextualize and analyze extremist preachers from all religions, backgrounds and nationalities.


In the coming weeks, our subjects will include the Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali, the Egyptian preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the American-Israeli rabbi Meir Kahane, the Yemeni militia leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, and the US pastor Terry Jones, among others.


The series begins today with an investigation into the background of Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white supremacist who shot dead 50 people in a terrorist attack 10 days ago on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tarrant is not just a terrorist, but is himself a Preacher of Hate, author of a ranting manifesto that attempts to justify his behavior. How did a shy, quiet boy from rural New South Wales turn into a hate-filled gunman intent on killing Muslims? The answers may surprise you.

Our series could not be more timely — anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK have soared by almost 600 percent since the Christchurch attack, it was revealed on Sunday.

The charity Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents, said almost all of the increase comprised “language, symbols or actions linked to the Christchurch attacks.”

“Cases included people making gestures of pointing a pistol at Muslim women and comments about British Muslims and an association with actions taken by the terrorist in New Zealand,” the charity said.

“The spike shows a troubling rise after Muslims were murdered in New Zealand,” said Iman Atta, director of Tell MAMA. “Figures have risen over 590 percent since New Zealand in comparison to the week just before the attack.