Strengthening Pak-Qatar relations | By Muhammad Zahid Rifat


Strengthening Pak-Qatar relations

PAKISTAN enjoys very brotherly, warm and friendly relations with all members of the Islamic Ummah particularly with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar besides as a peace loving country it also has cordial, friendly relations with other countries around the globe. Pakistan also maintains peaceful, cordial and friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries with India being a singular exception with whom friendly neighbourly relations continue to be marred mainly due to unresolved lingering dispute of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Ever since Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has come into power in April 2022, he has frequently been undertaking foreign tours for varying reasons for boosting Pakistan’s relations with these countries, attending international conferences and forums and in a concentrated attempt to pull the motherland out of the extraordinarily prevailing economic crisis apparently for providing relief to all segments of the society as much as possible. It is also worth mentioning that while attending international conferences and forums, the Prime Minister has been interacting with world leaders, heads of international financial institutions and organizations.

PM Shehbaz Sharif has undertaken 19 foreign visits mostly official with a couple of private visits to 11 countries which include Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two visits each, three each to the United Kingdom (private), UAE and Turkey and one each to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, USA, Egypt, Switzerland and China. With regards to Qatar, Pakistan has always enjoyed excellent relations with this fraternally brotherly country on a commonality of religion, culture, values and traditions.

These relations were duly highlighted during the prime minister’s two visits, both of two days duration each, at the appropriate highest level of the two brotherly countries. The first visit to Qatar was undertaken in August 2022 when the host country was making historically hectic preparations for hosting FIFA World Cup 2022 during which Pakistan Army contingent provided security assistance and in which footballs manufactured by sports goods manufacturers of Sialkot were officially used to the great appreciation of all participating teams besides the host country. This was indeed a matter of honour and pride for the people of Pakistan. The prime minister had paid his first visit to Qatar at the invitation of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the two leaders had an in-depth meeting in which they exchanged views of matters of bilateral, regional and international concerns and issues and measures to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries for their mutual benefit.

The second visit took place in the first week of March 2023 . The prime minister visited Qatar to attend the 5th UN World Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC) at the invitation of Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who was host to the international moot. The prime minister held a fruitful and productive meeting with the Emir of Qatar on the sidelines of the 5th UN least Developed Countries Conference in Doha. The prime minister told the host Emir of Qatar that Qatar’s support for Pakistan uplift initiatives is duly valued and appreciated by the people as well as the government of Pakistan. The two leaders held free and frank talks on a wide range of issues and discussed ways to further enhance excellent cooperation in economic and investment areas.

The Emir of Qatar on his part welcomed PM Shehbaz Sharif and expressed his keen interest in enhancing economic ties between the two brotherly countries. On the occasion, the visiting Pakistani leader invited the Emir of Qatar to visit Pakistan at the earliest on his convenience. The host ruler of Qatar accepted the invitation with great pleasure. Addressing the Conference, PM Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan was committed to implementing Doha Programme of Action considering it as an opportunity for accelerating sustainable prosperity in the least developed countries, partnership of the LDCs with the developed nations as well with the private sector and civil society was quite significant for global prosperity at large.

During his stay in Doha, the prime minister also held a fruitful meeting with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud . On the occasion, various proposals were discussed relating to different sectors of Pakistan’s economy. The CEO of QIA expressed his keen interest for his country’s investment in LNG power plants, airports and power parks in Pakistan. This was the second meeting between the two, the first one was held during the PM’s first visit to Qatar. It is worth mentioning here that the relations between the two brotherly countries have over the years seen a steady and positive upward trajectory. Following the prime minister’s two visits to the Gulf state, the two countries now apparently are keen to transform these historical and fraternal bilateral relations into a more robust strategic relationship through the enhancement of  economic cooperation in diverse fields of mutual interest.

Over the years, Qatar has been extending multi-field support and assistance to Pakistan in an unrelenting manner. Both the countries have a rich history of mutual cooperation in the bilateral domain as well as on multilateral forms, ties between Pakistan and Qatar were rooted deeply in the shared faith , mutual understanding and convergence of interests. Relationship between the two brotherly countries, to say the least., is quite appreciably based on mutual trust and shared goal of achieving prosperity for their people, have had excellent cooperation in various fields including energy, manpower export and people to people linkages in the past and quite obviously there was great potential as well as opportunities for transforming these into more robust and mutually beneficial partnership by exploring new ventures of cooperation in sectors like renewable energy, food security , industrial and infrastructure development and hospitality besides striking another deal for lengthy for supply of LNG at affordable prices as Qatar has huge reserves of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) following the prime minister’s two visits to Qatar in just eight-month period. There is a lot more which can be said about the most brotherly and mutually beneficial relations between Qatar and Pakistan and frequent exchange of contacts at the highest level of Emir of Qatar and Prime Minister of Pakistan but for want of space, these would be dilated upon some other time, please.

—The writer is Lahore-based Freeland Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) Radio Pakistan, Islamabad

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