Special relationship with Saudi Arabia

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THAT high level visits always pay back if planned and conducted minutely is reflected by the latest interaction between Pakistani and Saudi leadership as a result of which the two sides have renewed their pledge to enhance bilateral cooperation in different fields.

As per an accord inked after arrival of Prime Minister Imran Khan in KSA, the two countries decided to form a ‘Supreme Coordination Council’ to have close coordination between the two states besides signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in the fields of economic cooperation, strategic partnership, trade, investment, energy, environment and media partnership.

The visit and talks of the Prime Minister and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with top Saudi leadership have once again beamed out a strong message that the two countries are bonded in a special relationship.

The nature of special relationship was also highlighted by the fact that Pakistani leader was warmly received personally by Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

The visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan comes in the backdrop of recent developments in the region and rapidly changing regional and global alliances that are going to impact the globe in different ways in time to come.

PM’s meaningful discussions with the Crown Prince covered all topics that matter for people of the two countries in prevailing environment – economy, trade, investment, energy and job opportunities for Pakistani workforce and welfare of Pakistani Diaspora in the Kingdom besides exchange of views on issues of interest to the Muslim world including Islamophobia and discriminatory treatment with Muslim minority in different parts of the world.

It is significant to note that regional strategic environment requires strong alliances that can be seen in Pakistan-Saudi relations.

The prime minister’s visit was preceded by talks between the Pakistani and Saudi military leadership during which they discussed bilateral cooperation for regional peace and security.

Gen Bajwa held in-depth discussions with Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman.

The COAS conveyed an unequivocal message that Pakistan is resolute in its commitment to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia and defence of the two Holy Mosques.

The Crown Prince reciprocated the sentiments by acknowledging Pakistan’s role towards regional peace and stability, adding that relations between the kingdom and Pakistan are based on bonds of brotherhood and mutual trust and both nations will continue to play their part for peace, stability and betterment of the Muslim world.

As there are talks of Afghan end game, the two sides understandably discussed different aspects of the Afghan issue and vowed to harmonise their approach to deal with emerging situation.

Pakistan called for greater military-to-military cooperation between armed forces of the two countries and said it would positively impact regional peace and security.

The two countries have closely been coordinating during different phases of Afghan issue and it is hoped that their renewed cooperation in the emerging phase would have a salutary impact on overall regional situation and prospects of durable peace and security in the region.

The two countries are also closely cooperating on the issue of terrorism, which has assumed special significance not just for the two countries because of threats they face at the hands of terrorist elements but also for world in general.

Pakistan’s former army chief Raheel Sharif is heading the Saudi-led military alliance against terrorism.

Pakistan has always been emphasising the need for an engagement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as such a development would boost prospects for greater unity among the Islamic world.

It was in this backdrop that Prime Minister Imran Khan was one of the first leaders to have welcomed Saudi Arabia’s ‘initiative for peace with Iran’ after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sought ‘good’ relations with Tehran.

Imran Khan repeatedly offered to media between the two countries and it is believed that his efforts also contributed in de-escalation of tension in the region.

It is also hoped that signing of MOUs on trade and economy would further strengthen Pak-KSA relations.

There is great scope for intensifying and expanding bilateral trade and it is now for relevant officials, ministries and departments to translate this understanding into practical measures and outcome as an increase in trade, investment and manpower export has the potential to help resolve major vows of Pakistan.