Growing bonds with Qatar

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FRIENDLY countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE are once again coming to the financial rescue of Pakistan.

On the eve of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Qatar, State Bank of Pakistan stated on Monday that the country will receive two billion dollars from Doha, which indeed will help ease the funding crunch and possible default.

As regards Qatar, Pakistan has always enjoyed excellent relations with the fraternal country based on a commonality of culture, values and religion.

Both the sides have always helped each other in difficult times. For instance, whilst Qatar is extending financial assistance, Pakistan Army will also assist Qatar with security in the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022.

An approval has been given by the federal cabinet to Pakistan Army-Qatar agreement on providing assistance during the mega football event.

This is a relationship that has vast potential for growth. It is however unfortunate that this cordiality and understanding in relationship is not reflected in our trade and economic relations.

As the PM has embarked upon an official visit to Qatar, the focus must not be on getting aid but increasing economic relations especially investment from the friendly country.

In fact there are immense opportunities for transforming this bilateral relationship into a strong economic partnership.

The two countries have sound relations in the security paradigm extending to joint training, exercises, deputations and purchase of military equipment.

A large number of Pakistanis serve in the Qatari Armed Forces as well as in key advisory roles.

But now is the time to give an economic dimension to this relationship. For Qatar, Pakistan is a land of prospects in terms of renewables, especially solar, wind and hydro-power projects, as well as in terms of provision of food security.

One of the main focus points of Qatar’s national rejuvenation project, Vision 2030, is developing local food and agriculture products.

This is an avenue in which Pakistan holds a comparative advantage and can really prove to be a strategic partner for it.

Qatari investors may be facilitated to invest in development of food storage facilities. Likewise, for Pakistan, collaboration with Qatari oil and gas sector companies would help enhance both upstream and downstream projects.

Moreover, avenues such as tourism, small-medium enterprises (SMEs), chemicals and exchange of technology hold mutually enriching opportunities.

We believe our mutual cooperation in diverse areas will also accrue benefits for the whole region.

 

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