Several Pakistani prisoners detained in Saudi jails are expected to be released during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, which, diplomatic sources said, is scheduled for May 7. According to Arab News, Imran Khan is visiting the kingdom on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pakistan’s New Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Lieutenant General (r) Bilal Akbar, in an interview with Saudi media, said memorandums of understanding in three areas will be signed during the premier’s visit. He said a meeting related to prisoners’ release will be held during Imran Khan’s visit whereas the release of prisoners will be expedited with Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. He added that hundreds of prisoners will be released from jails in Saudi Arabia and return to Pakistan. This is not the first time that Imran Khan has raised the issue of Pakistani prisoners languishing in Saudi jails. Back in February 2019, the premier had requested the Saudi crown prince to release Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails during his visit to the country. Following PM’s request, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman had ordered the release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Arabia. “We are setting up a helpline at the embassy which will work 24 hours a day,” said the Pakistani ambassador, adding that the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia can use the helpline to communicate the problems and issues they are facing in the kingdom. In addition to it, a community service program will be launched to address their concerns, added Lt Gen (r) Bilal Akbar. Confirming the prime minister’s visit, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri during a weekly press briefing, had said, “I can confirm that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be undertaking an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman.” During the visit, the prime minister will meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi leaders. The prime minister will be accompanied by several members of the cabinet, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and PM’s special aide on Middle East Tahir Ashrafi. Ahead of the prime minister’s visit, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has already arrived in Riyadh. The army chief was received by Pakistan’s recently-appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Lt-Gen (retd) Bilal Akbar and Saudi military officials. He will meet Saudi civil and military leadership in what seems to be part of the preparation of the prime minister’s scheduled to take place on May 7. The visit of the army chief and upcoming trip by the premier is being seen as significant as these developments suggest a thaw in ties between the two countries. Saudi Crown Prince in a recent interview had said that his country wants to have “good and special” relationship with Iran. Pakistan immediately welcomed the statement by the de facto Saudi ruler. Officials said Pakistan would unlikely see financial support from Saudi Arabia for the balance of payment issue. Instead the prime minister’s visit would focus on project financing and investment, they added.