Productive KSA visit

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THE outcome of the Prime Minister’s three day visit to Saudi Arabia is a clear testimony to the fact that it proved to be productive as the leadership of the two countries agreed to forge economic ties and cooperate closely at regional and international forums on issues of interest to them and the Muslim Ummah.

It was in this backdrop that Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted that relations with KSA are now on firm footings and that the Kingdom stood by Pakistan in difficult times.

There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia steadfastly supported Pakistan’s political and economic causes and bailed out the country during times of crisis.

The latest example is the cash deposits by KSA and United Arab Emirates that helped Pakistan avert an imminent default and this has been acknowledged by the Prime Minister himself.

It is also significant to note that the Crown Prince assured Mr Khan of Saudi Arabia’s continued support to his vision to transform Pakistan into a modern, developed and welfare state.

The two sides discussed ways to enhance economic and trade relations by exploring areas of investment and opportunities available in the light of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and Pakistan’s development priorities emanating from a shift from geopolitics to geo-economics, with focus on cooperation in defence, energy, science, technology, agriculture and culture.

These are the areas of priority for Pakistan and our vows could be mitigated in a significant manner provided relevant officials on the two sides work hard to give practical shape to the understanding reached during the visit of the Prime Minister.

In this regard, the bilateral agreement for establishment of Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council was important to institutionalize and nurture the political, security cooperation and most importantly economic cooperation.

Pakistani workforce in KSA is not only contributing a lot in the overall socio-economic development of the Kingdom but is one of the major sources of foreign exchange earnings and with this in view it is heartening to hear that the Saudi leadership has given commitment to import more manpower from Pakistan to work in mega projects being initiated by the Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabia has always supported Pakistan’s principled and just stand on Jammu and Kashmir dispute and during the visit the Kingdom called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said in an interview that his country could play a role in reducing tension between Pakistan and India.

The two countries also held extensive discussions on other issues of interest to the Ummah including Islamophobia, Middle-East conflict and Afghanistan situation.

In the backdrop of moves by some Muslim countries for normalization of ties with Israel, the declaration of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the issue of Palestine assumes greater relevance.

They reaffirmed their full support for all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, especially, their right to self-determination and establishment of their independent state with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant UN resolutions.

On Afghanistan, the leadership of the two countries agreed to continue mutual consultations on the peace process.

They underlined that an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement was the only way forward and urged the Afghan parties to realise the historic opportunity for achieving a political settlement.

This is what Pakistan has been espousing since long and the understanding shows Pakistani point of view has now become the only viable option for durable peace and security in the troubled country.

During the visit, the Prime Minister also had fruitful meetings with Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr Yousef A Al-Othaimeen and Secretary General of the World Muslim League (WML) Mohammad Al Issa in Makkah.

Highlighting the rise of Islamophobic incidents in different parts of the world, the Prime Minister stressed on the importance of a concerted response from the OIC during his meeting with Dr Yousef, noting that following his letter addressed to Heads of State of Muslim countries, the OIC Council of Foreign Minister (CFM) in Niamey had adopted a unanimous resolution on observing March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

We hope that the OIC would become more instrumental in evolving a joint strategy to deal with the challenge of Islamophobia and to safeguard rights of Muslim minority in different parts of the globe.