London, June 7 : Pakistan is to ask Saudi Arabia if it can defer paying for oil imports worth two billion dollars as it grapples with a deteriorating economic situation fuelled by rise in global crude prices.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is in the desert kingdom to perform umrah (a pilgrimage to Mecca).
Gilani is expected to push Pakistan's request in meetings with Saudi Government leaders, including King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, the Financial Times quoted a senior government official, as sayintg.
Western economists have warned that Pakistan would have to raise domestic oil prices if it wanted to qualify for a crucial World Bank loan of 500 million dollars that it has asked for.
Independent economists say that, while the World Bank's loan would be a modest amount for Pakistan, it would allow it to seek commercial loans.
But the World Bank is urging Pakistan to withdraw subsidies from local oil consumers and ending subsidies would be a very unpopular step by a government whose future is uncertain.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia had allowed Pakistan to defer payments on oil imports afterakistan carried out its maiden nuclear tests in 1998.