New Chapter in Pak-KSA ties MBS visit wins hearts of Pakistanis, takes bilateral relations to new heights

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - FEBRUARY 17: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "PRIME MINISTRY OF PAKISTAN / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan (R) meets Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (L) in Islamabad, Pakistan on February 17, 2019. (Photo by PRIME MINISTRY OF PAKISTAN / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to Pakistan has set new foundations of cordial relations between both the countries. The visit took place at a time when Pakistan was in dire need of foreign especially financial assistance from the friendly countries to meet its current account and trade deficit as well as to equalize the balance of payments. The Saudi crown prince is energetic and has so far revealed a brave new vision for the future. In Khan, he is likely to find a resilient strategic partner with visions of his own to transform the age-old political order in Pakistan. Both are capable of giving new life and momentum to Saudi-Pakistan relations.

After taking office, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first official foreign visit was to Saudi Arabia, which reflects the important place it has always occupied in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been seeking help from friendly countries in order to cut the size of the bailout package his country is likely to need from the International Monetary Fund, under very strict conditions. The country is seeking its 13th bailout since the late 1980s and Saudi Arabia has already provided a $6bn loan
For decades, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a strong and close holistic friendship. Whenever Pakistan has faced challenges, Saudi Arabia has stood shoulder to shoulder and helped financially and diplomatically. For Pakistanis, the Kingdom holds immense cultural and religious importance. The presence of Makkah and Madinah makes Saudi Arabia one of the most significant countries in the Islamic world. Pakistanis, and Muslims in general, have a special reverence for the Kingdom and its leadership, and many Pakistanis visit every year for pilgrimage and other religious activities.

With the expansion of the Two Holy Mosques, a valuable contribution to the Muslim Ummah continues to be made. This has been one of the most massive construction projects in history, inspiring in both its scale and ambition, and I have witnessed the difference that has been made to the experience of making pilgrimage there. The two holy sites are now a feat of logistics, with a high-speed rail link and other ambitious infrastructure under construction that will allow it to accommodate 2 million people for several weeks a year. Other countries can learn much from such a wide-reaching development, which brings benefits not only for the Saudi people but for the whole region.

Saudi investments in an oil refinery in the port city of Gwadar in southwest Pakistan, as well as large-scale investments in special economic zones in the agricultural and technology sectors, will accrue mutual benefits. Pakistan already stands at a huge advantage because of preferential credit sales of oil by Saudi Arabia and substantial balance of payments support. It also benefits from remittances by Pakistani expats in the Kingdom, while robust cooperation between the defense forces of the two countries is an additional source of strength.

In this regard Saudi Arabia pledged investment deals worth $20bn with Pakistan which is seeking to bolster its fragile economy. The deals include funding for an $8bn oil refinery in the city of Gwadar. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed provisional agreements and memorandums of understanding in the energy, petrochemicals and mining sectors. The two countries have a long-standing military relationship. Investment and trade relations have been given high priority during the visit as Saudi Crown Prince announced 20 billion dollars investment and signed agreements and MoUs in several sectors in Pakistan. The visit laid the foundation for a new chapter in Pakistan-Saudi political, diplomatic, and economic, investment, and trade, people-to-people, defence and security relationship. The establishment of Supreme Coordination Council, it’s subsidiary mechanism are one of the key steps in shaping the new trajectory in the bilateral relations.
Both sides also reiterated their commitment to continue combating extremism and terrorism and expressed their deep appreciation for the achievements and sacrifices made by the two sides in the war against terrorism. They also applauded the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in order to confront this serious scourge and called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to join all international efforts to combat global terrorism.

Both brotherly countries applauds the growing momentum in bilateral ties in all areas. They stressed that dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region and to resolve the outstanding issues. Both sides also strongly condemned the atrocities and human rights violations committed against Muslims around the world. Both sides noted with satisfaction their strong defence and security ties, and agreed to further enhance cooperation in this field to advance shared objectives.

Crown Prince praised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s agenda of transforming Pakistan into a welfare state, based on Islamic socio-economic principles and assured him of the Kingdom’s continued support. The two sides expressed their hope for achieving a fair, comprehensive and long-lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the resolutions of international legitimacy guaranteeing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state based on internationally agreed standards 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.

The two sides agreed on the importance of political settlement and promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan so that millions of Afghan refugees in neighboring countries can return to their country and contribute to their development and lasting peace. Saudi side appreciated Pakistan’s generous hosting of millions of Afghan refugees and other initiatives by Pakistan in the Afghan context.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen measures to promote trade, participate in exhibitions and events, welcome business meetings from both countries, and encourage the private sector to take the lead in building a strong economic partnership between the two brotherly countries.

The Crown Prince stressed the potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which will contribute to the development and prosperity of the region. Both of countries called to promote dialogue, respect and understanding among followers of different faiths to promote peace and interfaith harmony.

Foreign Office Spokesperson in this regard said investment and trade relations were given high priority during the visit as Saudi Crown Prince announced 20 billion dollars investment and signed agreements and MoUs in several sectors in Pakistan. The visit laid the foundation for a new chapter in Pakistan-Saudi political, diplomatic, and economic, investment, and trade, people-to-people, defence and security relationship.

The establishment of Supreme Coordination Council, its subsidiary mechanism are one of the key steps in shaping the new trajectory in the bilateral relations. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the Crown Prince for his immediate consent to release 2107 prisoners from Saudi jails. He briefed the Crown Prince on the grave human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir and the need for resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people. The Saudi side praised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dialogue offer to India including the initiative on opening of Kartarpur corridor.

The Saudi side lauded Pakistan’s important positions in the Islamic world and its efforts for regional peace and security. Both sides also reiterated their commitment to continue combating extremism and terrorism and expressed their deep appreciation for the achievements and sacrifices made by the two sides in the war against terrorism. They also applauded the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in order to confront this serious scourge and called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to join all international efforts to combat global terrorism.
Both brotherly countries, applauds the growing momentum in bilateral ties in all areas. They stressed that dialogue is the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region and to resolve the outstanding issues. Both sides also strongly condemned the atrocities and human rights violations committed against Muslims around the world. Both sides noted with satisfaction their strong defence and security ties, and agreed to further enhance cooperation in this field to advance shared objectives.

Crown Prince praised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s agenda of transforming Pakistan into a welfare state, based on Islamic socio-economic principles and assured him of the Kingdom’s continued support. The two sides expressed their hope for achieving a fair, comprehensive and long-lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the resolutions of international legitimacy guaranteeing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state based on internationally agreed standards 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.

The two sides agreed on the importance of political settlement and promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan so that millions of Afghan refugees in neighboring countries can return to their country and contribute to their development and lasting peace. Saudi side appreciated Pakistan’s generous hosting of millions of Afghan refugees and other initiatives by Pakistan in the Afghan context.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen measures to promote trade, participate in exhibitions and events, welcome business meetings from both countries, and encourage the private sector to take the lead in building a strong economic partnership between the two brotherly countries.

The Crown Prince stressed the potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which will contribute to the development and prosperity of the region. Both of countries called to promote dialogue, respect and understanding among followers of different faiths to promote peace and interfaith harmony.

Speaking at a dinner at Prime Minister House, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman expressed optimism about the economic future of Pakistan, saying his country had been waiting for a leadership like that of Prime Minister Imran Khan to partner with Islamabad in various areas. MBS said Pakistan is a dear country to all Saudis and that the two countries have walked together in tough and good times. He said Pakistan today had a great future in store with great leadership, and noted that the country’s GDP grew by 5 percent in 2018.

We believe that Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future and we want to be sure we are part of that. Turning towards Prime Minister Khan, he said that his country had been waiting for that kind of a leadership to partner with and build a lot of things together. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan today signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for investment cooperation. We believe the amount of that kind of investment is US $20 billion,
MBS said. It’s big, for phase one. He expressed the hope that the investment will grow to bigger numbers in the coming years and be beneficial for both the countries. The Saudi royal said his country would collaborate with Pakistan economically, politically and in terms of security. We believe in our region, that is why we are investing in it. This is my first trip [to the] east since I became the crown prince and the first country [that I have visited] is
Speaking on the occasion Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Kingdom has always been a friend in need to Pakistan. For Pakistanis, this is a great day, the premier said, adding that Saudi Arabia had always been there when Pakistan needed friends. I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in [a] bad situation, Khan told MBS, adding that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were now taking their relationship to a new level, where investment agreements would be mutually beneficial for the countries. The investment would revolve around minerals, tourism, petrochemicals, agriculture, food processing and other areas.
Prime Minister Khan also invited Riyadh to avail opportunities that can arise from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan’s close links with Beijing. It is an exciting future where we have Saudi Arabia participating in what is going to be, in the next 10 years, probably the country with the biggest GDP. Khan told MBS that if it hadn’t been for security concerns, you would have seen thousands and thousands of people on the streets welcoming you.
The prime minister’s speech preceded the address of the Saudi crown prince, but once MBS finished, Khan rose again to speak about two issues. One, he requested MBS to allow Pakistani Haj pilgrims to undergo immigration at the three major Pakistani airports before leaving for Saudi Arabia for their convenience. Secondly, Prime Minister Khan requested the Saudi authorities to look into the hardships of the Pakistani labourers working in the Kingdom.

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Amna Malik
About Amna Malik 46 Articles
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.