Shehbaz, MBS firm to bring economic boom | By Naveed Aman Khan


Shehbaz, MBS firm to bring economic boom

CHINESE President Xi Jin Ping was to officially visit Pakistan in 2014 but because of prolonged mischievous, capricious and pixelated protest-cum-sit-in of Imran Khan of PTI and Tahir-ul-Qadri of PAT it was postponed.

During the 126 days long sit in it was wrongly said by Imran Khan that the visit of the Chinese President was not even scheduled to Pakistan.

Then that unwise and unpleasant gesture of Imran Khan put torrential and devastating impact on the international level and for the first time in the history of the country it really damaged Pakistan China bilateral relationship.

In 2014, CPEC was heading for significant progress but protests of PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) posed serious hindrances in its way to development and prosperity.

During the Imran Khan-led PTI government, development work on CPEC remained very slow.

During Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent but very important visit to China Imran Khan again kept himself engaged in protests on roads.

In fact, he wanted to capture maximum space and broadcasting time so that media remain divided and could not focus on Premier Shehbaz Sharif’s visit and landmark achievements.

Now Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, is come to Pakistan.

Imran Khan again is on roads to sabotage positive impact of the visit of the Saudi dignitary. Imran again is attempting to remain in focus, shadow and divide media during MBS’s highly valued visit to Pakistan.

Imran’s such gesture again may annoy the dignitary. Heavy investment deals and wide-ranging memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth $10 billion are expected to be inked between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia during Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s much-anticipated visit to Pakistan on November 21.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met with the Crown Prince and Premier MBS on the sidelines of the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

There, he expressed his determination to further strengthen the multilateral partnership between the two countries.

Pakistani nation is anxiously looking forward to the upcoming visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Muhammad bin Salman’s planned visit would promote bilateral cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

Both Shehbaz Sharif and MBS emphasize the importance of increasing trade, investment, development and people-to-people ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Some of the projects of great significance costing around $4 billion have already been agreed upon in principle by both the leaders.

A separate investment of $12 billion is expected if Pakistan and Saudi proceed with the plan to set up an oil refinery in Pakistan.

The Saudi de facto leader is also expected to announce an additional bailout package of $4.2 billion for Pakistan, which includes additional reserves of $3 billion and the oil facility on deferred payment.

The MBS visit would mark the initiation of a hefty Saudi investment in Pakistan, and multiple Saudi petroleum agreements would be finalized.

An agreement on the establishment of an oil refinery by Kingdom of Saudia Arabia is also expected amid the visit.

The visit of the Saudi Crown Prince will also see investment in the establishment of a state-of-the-art deep conversion refinery along with a petrochemical complex in Gwadar a potentially revolutionary step for Pakistan’s economy and its dependence on the import of petroleum products.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has also issued instructions to the concerned authorities to finalize the refinery standards and poss`ible conditions.

Pak-Arab Refinery Company (Parco) and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) will also partner with the Saudi oil giant Aramco on the $12 billion project.

The work on all conditions and technical standards will be completed before the visit of the Saudi Prince.

It is understood that after the construction of the refinery expected in 2028 Pakistan will become self-sufficient in the production of petroleum products.

The petroleum refinery project which was stalled in 2019, will be based on state-of-the-art deep-conversion technology to be introduced in Pakistan that operates five main petroleum refineries, generally using obsolete process technologies and currently planning for technological upgradation and capacity expansion.

Besides an investment agreement is also expected for the new motorway project costing around $5 million from Nowshera.

An agreement worth $500 million for the construction of King Salman Hospital in Islamabad is also on the cards.

An agreement with Saudi Arabia to invest in two hydropower projects worth $500 million in Azad Jammu and Kashmir is also expected.

There is possibility of an agreement on the Saudi investment in the desalination project for the supply of clean drinking water in Karachi.

The Sindh government has also requested the federal government for a financial partnership on this project.

Saudi authorities are also expected to sign an agreement for an investment in the establishment of a science park at the NED University of Engineering and Technology.

The project will cost up to $60-70 million. Pakistan has long been facing internal and external challenges.

Whenever Pakistan takes any step to strengthen political, diplomatic and economic ties with any country, espacially Saudi Arabia and China, it faces terrorism, long marches, protests and sit-ins.

Pakistan government will have to provide foolproof security to Chinese and Saudi workers and officials.

Any terrorist incident and long march will sabotage economic activity in the country. Political stability in the country will lead towards economic development.

In 2014 because of protests of Imran Khan, the visit of the Chinese President was postponed and in 2022 visit of MBS is postponed because of mischivous protest of Imran Khan.

But Premier Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Premier MBS are firmly commited to bring economic stability and boom to Pakistan.

We, as a nation, need to laud this vision of both the dignitries. Emerging economic powers have addressed root causes of terrorism and political instability in their countries. We need to learn a lesson from those countries and nations.

—The writer is editor, book ambassador political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.


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