IT is now official that as a result of the successful visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom is considering ways and means to boost economic and financial cooperation with Pakistan.
The joint statement issued after the visit refers to the Kingdom’s support to Pakistan and its economy “including the discussion of augmenting the $3 billion deposit with the central bank through term extension or otherwise and exploring options to further enhance the financing of petroleum products and supporting the economic structural reforms for the benefit of Pakistan and its people”.
Meanwhile, it was a stop-over visit of the PM to the UAE but he held substantive discussions with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in which the two countries affirmed to advance the longstanding relations and prospects of propelling cooperation on various fronts.
Pakistan has always enjoyed closest relations with the brotherly countries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and multi-faceted cooperation with them played a crucial role in socio-economic development of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the momentum of cooperation could not be maintained or strengthened further during the tenure of the PTI Government and in this backdrop the outcome of the maiden visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz is a welcome development as it has special significance in the given economic situation of Pakistan.
It is a matter of satisfaction that Pakistan and the Kingdom have affirmed their stance to consolidate security and stability, fight against violence, extremism and terrorism, support the unity and independence of the countries of the region and their territorial integrity, as well as to give priority to political solutions that bring prosperity and progress to the region and its people.
This unanimity of views is a firm indication that besides economic cooperation, the two countries have reached an understanding to harmonize their policies and actions further on a number of issues that matter much for regional and global peace, security and stability.
Based on concrete achievements of the visit, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, who accompanied the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and UAE, has declared that the two countries were on path to strategic partnership.
Her views are corroborated by the joint statement, which not only talk about closer cooperation in the realm of security, defence and foreign policy issues but also joint cooperation in a number of fields including industrial and mining sectors, innovative uses of hydrocarbons, electricity, clean technologies for hydrocarbon resources, energy efficiency, localization of the energy sector products and supplying the chains associated with it, working on the renewable energy projects and developing such projects through various sources such as solar and wind energy, media and environment.
As investment is considered key to progress and development of a country, it is appreciable that the two sides agreed to take measures for investment promotion.
These include holding investment forums in order to introduce the available opportunities to the business sectors of both sides, establish partnership in various investment fields and work jointly to solve the challenges faced by the investors through holding meetings of the Saudi-Pakistani Business Council.
The keen desire expressed by the Prime Minister for strengthening ties with UAE is also in line with the aspirations of people of Pakistan.
A large number of Pakistanis are contributing a lot to socio-economic development of the KSA and UAE and their remittances are playing a crucial role in efforts towards fiscal consolidation.
Saudi Arabia and UAE have active plans for mega development projects involving import of huge manpower and it is for our ministries and officials concerned to benefit optimally from the opportunity.
The goodwill and understanding is there but Pakistan will have to work hard to impart skills to the manpower that are relevant for Saudi and UAE plans and requirements.
Pakistan is excelling in IT and telecom sectors and special efforts should be made to forge cooperation in these sectors to the mutual advantage of the two sides.
Practical steps should also be taken to forge media cooperation as this can serve as an effective tool in promoting people-to-people contacts, which assume critical importance in ensuring sustainable cooperation in various fields.