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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Imran Khan performs Umrah in Saudi Arabia 

Pakistan's new leader expected to seek financial help on his first overseas visit as PM

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visits the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Press Agency via AP
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visits the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Press Agency via AP

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage early Wednesday morning after touching down in Saudi Arabia for his first state visit since taking office in August.

Mr Khan and his delegation prayed inside the Kabaa and a large number of Pakistani nationals living in the country congregated outside the holy site to see the new prime minister.

Mr Khan is expected to meet King Salman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before travelling to the UAE tonight.

The former cricketer must find about $12 billion (Dh44.07bn) to deal with Pakistan's widening current account deficit and dwindling reserves.

If he fails, he will likely have to approach the International Monetary Fund.

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Possible help from Saudi Arabia could include a large direct loan or offering oil on deferred payments, analysts suggested.

Pakistan’s finance minister, Asad Umar, on Tuesday admitted the economic crisis was deepening before he set off to accompany Mr Khan.

Since taking office, the prime minister pushed on with an austerity drive. In the latest cost-cutting move, Mr Khan auctioned off fleets of official vehicles, including bulletproof cars. However, a lack of interest saw buyers walk away with cut-price deals on both luxury and ordinary vehicles.