PAKISTAN’S relationship with China and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very unique which, in fact, is deep rooted in the hearts of their peoples and it is a matter of satisfaction that our government officials are looking towards further bolstering of economic relations with these countries to take their relationship to new heights.
Whilst the recent visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Beijing was successful in giving much needed impetus to multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, whilst addressing Overseas Pakistanis in Jeddah, stated that both Pakistan and KSA could forge a CPEC-style relationship.
Both Pakistan and KSA have always enjoyed a strong defence and security cooperation and the statement of Ahsan Iqbal really suggests that the country wants to transform this relationship into a strong economic partnership which, in fact, is the way forward and serve the interests of both the countries.
It is really unfortunate that in the past we only focused on getting bail out packages from the fraternal KSA which was always forthcoming to help Pakistan in difficult times.
Had our focus been on building the economic partnership, the benefits would have been immense for us.
Anyway it is never too late and now we must engage more frequently with the friends in KSA to give an economic dimension to this relationship.
In fact, the Saudi Crown Prince during his last visit to Pakistan back in 2019 had announced a mega investment plan of twenty billion dollars but we did not follow it up in true spirit and the result is that there is no progress yet on it.
Most recently it was stated that both China and KSA will co-finance a ten billion dollars oil refinery to be established in Gwadar.
This is a welcome development and must be pursued vigorously to ensure its early materialization.
We believe that the establishment of this oil refinery as well as inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the CPEC would not only boost trilateral trade but also serve to form a new economic troika in the region which will benefit the three countries in many ways.
By joining the CPEC, not only the oil exports of KSA will see a boost but its investment in the SEZs will also be a win-win situation for the three countries.
The three countries must sit together to map out the future cooperation in diverse sectors of economy.