Pakistani Leader Shuns Global Boycott Of Saudi Conference, Says 'We're Desperate'

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says he is attending an investment
conference in Saudi Arabia boycotted by other world leaders because
"we're desperate" for loans from the kingdom.

"The reason I feel I have to avail myself of this opportunity is because
in a country of 210 million people, right now we have the worst debt
crisis in our history," Khan told the Middle East Eye on October 22.

"Unless we get loans from friendly countries or the [International
Monetary Fund], we actually won't have in another two or three months
enough foreign exchange to service our debts or to pay for our imports.
So we're desperate at the moment."

Other global leaders are boycotting the Saudi investment conference to
protest the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate
in Istanbul earlier this month.

Khan told the Middle East Eye that he is concerned over the "shocking"
death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, but said "we will wait
for whatever the Saudi explanation is... We hope there is an explanation
that satisfies people and those responsible are punished."

It is Khan's second visit to Saudi Arabia in just over a month. He has
not as yet succeeded in securing significant financial assistance from
Riyadh to stave off a looming balance of payments crisis.

The Independent Human Rights Commission, a Pakistani rights group,
criticized Khan's decision to go to the Saudi conference, saying the
government should have taken a clearer stand on Khashoggi's killing, and
that "business interests" should not undermine the "right to dissent"
and freedom of expression.

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