A Torch Bearer of Pak-KSA Ties

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Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed close relations, primarily because of religious ties. Both countries are affiliated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Saudi Arabia has always stood with Pakistan in difficult times and the Pakistani government and its people highly acknowledge it. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has been the first choice of visit of almost every Pakistani ruler in the past and may remain in future too.

The Saudis have been very generous when it comes to providing aid to Pakistan. For example, when a devastating earthquake hit Balochistan in 2005, Saudi Arabia supported Pakistan with $10 million in humanitarian aid. Moreover, when floods swept across Pakistan in 2010 and 2011, Saudi Arabia granted Pakistan $170 million for relief operations and reconstruction activities in the affected areas.

Almost every Ambassador of Saudi Arabia contributed to strengthening of bilateral ties between both the countries significantly; however the current Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki has proved more dynamic and active in this connection because Pakistan has obtained huge financial assistance package from Saudi Arabia at a crucial economic juncture. According to government officials His Excellency Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki played key role in the finalization of details of the said package. His super role in this connection is widely acknowledged by Pakistani government and people.

Al-Malki was born in Riyadh in 1970. He earned a bachelor’s degree in military and marine sciences from King Fahd Naval Academy, the main naval academy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Royal Saudi Navy, located at the King Abdul Aziz Naval Base in Jubail. He also holds a master’s degree from Command and Staff College. Prior to his appointment as an ambassador, he served the Royal Saudi Navy. As a navy official, he was promoted several times and became a rear admiral.

In 2014, he was appointed the military attache at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was viewed as a capable officer at the Royal Saudi Navy. Al-Malki took retirement from the navy to assume the diplomatic assignment in Pakistan.

He is quite familiar with the situation in Pakistan and is very popular with the Pakistani people due to his courteousness and polite disposition.
Since his appointment in Pakistan as Ambassador, he has been actively pursuing the agenda of bringing both the countries closer and closer to each other. In this regard, he has very connected to government officials and strong advocate for the Pakistan, Saudi Arabian ties. In this connection, he frequently holds meetings with Pakistani officials and leaders and he is equally popular among all the segments of Pakistani society. In a recent meeting with During a meeting with Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani on Friday in Islamabad, Al-Maliki announced 50 scholarships for Pakistani students to study in Saudi universities. The ambassador noted that the Saudi government will bear all expenses related to studies and accommodations of the Pakistani students, he added that the number of scholarships for Pakistani students will double next year. The ambassador stressed Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to its relationships with Pakistan and its people and it will spare no effort in standing with Pakistan and offering assistance and support.

While sharing light moments with journalists last year, Ambassador Al-Malki reiterated that bilateral relations built over 70-years ago between Islamabad-Riyadh would be strengthened further by each passing day. Both the countries have built strong ties in multidimensional areas, including defence and economy and these relations will be taken to new height, he remarked.
The Saudi-Pakistani relationship is a vast and dynamic web of cooperative linkages, age-old bonds of friendship and undertakings, dating from well before the establishment of diplomatic relations and growing continuously year-on-year. Today, the Kingdom and Pakistan maintain close and robust political, military, economic, security and cultural relations. Nawaf said that since the emergence of Pakistan, close ties have existed between the two countries.

In a similar meeting with former speaker national assembly Ambassador Al-Malki said that his government wanted Pakistan to prosper and develop. He stressed the need for spreading the true message of Islam for curbing extremism and terrorism. He also endorsed proposal for collaboration to confront shared challenges and urged the need for deeper engagement between the two friendly countries. National interest of Pakistan is obviously national interest of Saudi Arabia the Ambassador remarked. Saudi Arabia will stand Pakistan’s partner in uplifting regional development. We consider Pakistan as partner in addressing regional and global challenges.

He has also been very active on economic cooperation between both the countries and in a meeting with former minister of state for finance he discussed firming up preparations for upcoming Pak-Saudi Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) with observation that Saudi Arabia will always stand by Pakistan, envoy assures minister. He reiterated that in the last three years, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have made important decisions, especially with regard to their development trajectories.

Saudi Vision 2030 – a far-reaching and pragmatic road-map envisioned by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is set to transform Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic development. They also discussed with the ambassador current bilateral trade between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and said there was room and potential for increasing it to a far higher level. On this account they minister suggested measures like participation in mutual trade fairs and exhibitions, trade diversification to non-traditional areas, B2B meetings and reactivation of Pak-Saudi Business Council.

In November last, Ambassador Al-Malki gave a good news for Pakistanis that Saudi Minister for Energy would soon visit Pakistan to sign MoU on establishing an oil refinery in Pakistan, apart from finalizing other major projects in which Saudi Arabia has shown interest. He made this revelation in a meeting with President Dr. Arif Alvi. The Saudi Ambassador briefed the President on two recent visits of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and said that they have been very successful resulting in enhanced and multi-faceted economic cooperation between the two countries. He appreciated the peace and stability prevalent in Pakistan and steps taken by the Government to invite foreign investors to invest in various sectors of economy.

He is so ambitious for taking the ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to new heights that in December last, he called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and briefed the Chief Justice about bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He said both countries have common traditions and culture and share many similarities. The Ambassador expressed his good wishes for Chief Justice of Pakistan. In November last Saudi Ambassador said that the kingdom wants to enhance trade with Pakistan and soon important memorandums of understanding (MoUs) would be signed with Pakistan. He hoped for the strengthening of relations between the two countries. Pakistan faces a tough security situation right now and Saudi Arabia has always supported in difficult times, he said.

Speaking about Saudi aid, he said that the kingdom would deposit $3 billion to the country’s national exchequer and would invest $8 billion in an oil refinery in Gwadar. He also said that a power generation plant would be set up in Punjab. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud regard Pakistan dearly. Prime Minister Imran Khan has a big heart and has always talked about the benefit of his country.

Saudi Ambassador said that Pakistan would have the first instalment of Saudi aid amounting to $3 billion in the next few days to address its balance-of-payments crisis. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would release the amount of $3 billion in terms of the balance of payment, the envoy stated in a short interview with a private news channel. In addition to this, the envoy confirmed that the Saudi government would provide deferred payment facility for the import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion. The Saudi companies are keen to invest a huge amount of around $6-8 billion for establishing an oil refinery in Pakistan, he added.

Replying to a question, Nawaf Saeed said that besides this aid, the Kingdom would like to invest in the power sector of Pakistan, adding we were also seeking to set up a petrochemical industry near Karachi. Moreover, he hinted that an investment would also be made in the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project. After weeks of speculation, Saudi Arabia had last month stepped forward with a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy.

Now there are reports that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likely to sign memoranda of understanding for more than $10 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan. According to Finance Minister Asad Umar, Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz will visit Pakistan next month and most of the MoUs are expected to be signed during his trip. Saudi Arabia is interested in Pakistan’s four sectors oil refinery, petrochemicals, renewable energy and mining. Pakistan expects $10bn plus Saudi investment and the MoUs to be signed in this regard will not be common or vague but concrete agreements.

The $10bn investment will be in addition to the $6bn bailout package given by Riyadh to Islamabad during Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October last year. According to a survey, 65 per cent of the investments will take place in the country’s commercial hub Karachi and 35pc in Lahore. Therefore, better law and order situation and ease-of-doing-business opportunities were prerequisite for foreign investment.