It’s not unusual for dignitaries to receive gifts during visits to foreign countries – perhaps a Cuban cigar or a bottle of French wine.
But a delegation of Pakistani senators sprang a surprise Monday during a visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the country, presenting him with a gold-plated gun.
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a submachine gun developed by German engineers, and this modified weapon has an elaborate pattern engraved on its gold-plated components.
Lawmakers also gave the crown prince, commonly known as MBS, a portrait of himself, a source at the senate told CNN.
Presenting MBS with a weapon will likely raise eyebrows at a time when the crown prince has been embroiled in controversy over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the country’s consulate in Istanbul in October of last year.
US intelligence officials have said the killing could not have been carried out without bin Salman’s knowledge. Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied that MBS knew anything about the operation.
MBS traveled to Pakistan at the start of an Asian tour widely seen as an attempt to bolster ties and improve the kingdom’s image after a troubled year.
Islamabad went to great lengths to welcome bin Salman, honoring his arrival with a 21-gun salute and a fly-past by the country’s air force. A massive security operation was also launched, with the capital’s air space shut down and schools and all government institutions closed Monday.
MBS signed agreements worth $20 billion during his two-day visit to the country, the first since he became crown prince in 2017.
India was the next stop on bin Salman’s tour. On Wednesday, he visited New Delhi, announcing plans to share intelligence to fight terrorism and make further investments in the country.
Next up is China, Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, with Riyadh’s exports to Beijing worth $46 billion in 2018.
MBS and President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss cooperation on China’s One Belt, One Road trade and infrastructure initiative, as well as MBS’ Saudi Vision 2030 plan, which aims to reduce unemployment, grow the private sector and develop industrial, tourism and entertainment hubs over the next decade.