PAKISTAN and Saudi Arabia have, once again, expressed their resolve to take all possible measures to further strengthen the bilateral relationship under the strategic direction set by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The determination was expressed during talks of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud with Pakistani leadership and in remarks made by the distinguished guest during his media talk along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The visit itself was a manifestation of the Saudi desire to forge warmer ties with Pakistan as it came as a follow up of the successful visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Kingdom in May 2021 where he had a productive discussion with Crown Prince MBS on ways and means to strengthen bilateral relations in the backdrop of reports about some irritants in relations.
Prince Faisal underscored the importance that Saudi Arabia attaches to its strong relationship with Pakistan, based on bonds of brotherhood.
Apart from other issues, the fate of about four hundred thousand Pakistanis, which are unable to go back to Saudi Arabia to resume their work because of the Covid-related restrictions, also came under discussion.
This is a priority concern for Pakistan as the issue is linked to the career of such a large number of Overseas Pakistanis as well as its significance in the context of much-needed foreign exchange earnings by the country.
We hope the Saudi leadership, which has always been very considerate on issues concerning welfare of people of Pakistan and progress and development of Pakistan, would review the situation favourably and allow them entry at the earliest.
In the meantime, Pakistan should complete its own homework by ensuring that these workers are administered a vaccine that is acceptable in the Kingdom.
Steps should also be taken in a timely manner to capitalize on Saudi decision to import more manpower under its Vision-2030.
The visit took place at a time when dramatic changes were taking place in neighbouring Afghanistan.
As Saudi Arabia also took keen interest throughout in search for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, it is hoped that consultations on the issue would help evolve unanimity of views on the evolving situation.
Riyadh’s unwavering support to Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issue is also appreciable and might contribute towards a tangible outcome at the earliest.