Pakistan and Kuwait have fraternal relations for the last 60 years that are firmly rooted in the shared faith and values. Kuwait hosts a large Pakistani community, more than 100,000 Pakistani expatriates, which is making a positive contribution to the development of Kuwait and is sending remittances supporting Pakistan’s economy as well. The regular high-level exchanges between both countries are the epitome of both mutual desires and shared goals of both Islamic nations.
Both nations inherited a close relationship due to their predominant Islamic identity but they came closer after Pakistan hosted the second Islamic Summit in 1974 in Lahore where the leadership of Muslim countries participated. Kuwait attaches more importance to its relations with Pakistan due to the contribution of Pakistani forces in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Similarly, Pakistan Army Engineer Corps assisted Kuwait in mine clearance after the Gulf War 1991. Moreover, the Pakistani community played a pivotal role in the development of the infrastructure of Kuwait.
Kuwait attaches more importance to its relations with Pakistan due to the contribution of Pakistani forces in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. -. H. E. Mr Marzouq Ali M. Al-Ghanim
While looking at the economic and commercial ties between both nations, Kuwait’s economy is a hydrocarbon-dependent economy and Pakistan is considered among the major importer of Kuwaiti black gold. Oil import comprises more than 80% of the total bilateral trade between both nations. According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Pakistan imports from Kuwait was US$1.25 Billion during 2019, and apart from the oil imports, others included plastic, glassware, organic chemicals, aluminium etc. In the same year, Kuwait imports from Pakistan accounted for US$183.21 Million, where the majority chunk of imports was of food products, textile, salt, cement and oilseeds. In addition, more than 100,000 skilled Pakistani workers are currently working in different sectors of Kuwait and send remittances back home. In terms of investment, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) has also been investing in Pakistan since 1987.
What is perhaps less well known is that the Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company has been investing in Pakistan and that, since 1987, its investment has exceeded $1 billion. – Najmuddin A. Shaikh
With the completion of the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the prospects of investment of Kuwait in Pakistan heightens and the matter has been discussed in the recent high-level exchanges of the leadership of both nations. In the hydrocarbon sector, 51% of Kuwaiti-owned PARCO vowed to increase its investment in the pipelines, which will carry diesel and other white products upcountry from Karachi and Bin Qasim reducing traffic on our highway and the frequent theft that occurs when road tankers are used. In addition, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) continues to have a long-term contract under which it purchases High-Speed Diesel and other white products from Kuwait and enjoys favourable payment terms.
Moreover, Kuwait always helped Pakistan in crucial time, such as after the 2005 earthquake; Kuwait was the first country to send aid and later on offered up to $100million for the reconstruction of affected areas. Similarly, in the 2010 floods of Pakistan, the Kuwaiti government lifted a long-standing ban on collecting donations in public.
Brotherly relations between both nations, Pakistan and Kuwait is also evident from the regular high-level exchanges of leaders of both nations and their support for each other in the international forums like the UN and OIC. Apart from the Ministerial visits, the Presidents and Prime Ministers of both nations visited each other in the past and reiterated their commitment to strengthen the ties.
The recent two-day visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait, His Excellency Sheikh Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah to Pakistan in March 2021 on the invitation of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is an epitome of cordial relationship between both states. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister called on PM Imran Khan for expressing his gratitude for Pakistan’s steadfast support and noted that the two countries always stood by each other at a difficult time. This visit comes in the backdrop of the bilateral meeting held with Foreign Minister Qureshi on the sidelines of the 47th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Niamey, Niger, in November 2020, where both two Foreign Ministers agreed to work closely towards further strengthening and expanding bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. In this nascent visit, both sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including cooperation in political, economic, defence, trade and investment sectors, and workforce export, and discussed ways to enhance people-to-people linkages between the two countries. Matters of travel facilitation, easing the visa regime, and convening the next session of the Joint Ministerial Commission also remained the focus of the discussion. Similarly, both sides reaffirmed the resolve to continue close collaboration in multilateral fora, in particular, the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and expressed their contentment with the recent bilateral political consultation between both nations. The Foreign Office of Pakistan stated, “This visit gives a new impetus to the existing cordial bilateral relations and provides a good opportunity to reinvigorate efforts aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields.”
FM Dr Ahmed Nasser and I have agreed on a roadmap of engagements, upgrading Pakistan-Kuwait relations across all spheres and we share a joint focus on strengthening our #Economic Diplomacy footprint. – FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Before this visit, the Foreign Ministers of both countries visited each other’s countries, met on the sidelines of the OIC Summit, discussed matters of mutual interest on the telephone, and vowed to achieve tangible results in the near future. The Kuwaiti counterpart of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Dr Ahmad appreciated the efforts of the government of Pakistan in combating the challenges posed by a coronavirus, extended Kuwait’s support for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for debt relief, and emphasized the importance of long-term strategic vision for Kuwait–Pakistan relations.
Before the visit of the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister to Pakistan, the Assistant Foreign Minister of Asian Affairs Ambassador Ali Suleiman Al-Saeed paid a four-day official visit to Pakistan in February 2021 and held consultations with difference Ministries as part of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC). The underlying agenda of this consultation was to review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations; collaboration on issues of mutual interest at regional and international forums; and possibilities for enhanced cooperation in other fields.
The quintessence of brotherly ties between both nations is also evident from the fact that Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi was among the first heads of state to travel to Kuwait to offer his personal, and Pakistan’s, condolences on the passing of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in 2019. Similarly, former PM Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari visited Kuwait in 2017 and 2011 respectively.
On the other side, Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah had undertaken an official visit to Pakistan on 10-12 November 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. H. E. Mr Marzouq Ali M. Al-Ghanim, Speaker of the National Assembly of the State of Kuwait, along with a high-level delegation comprising members of Parliament of Kuwait, visited Pakistan as well.
In terms of Bilateral Political Consultation, three meetings have been held so far. The first, one was held in tandem with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic relations between Kuwait and Pakistan in October 2013. The second bilateral political consultation was convened in 2016, and the third has been held in January 2021. The consultation helps both nations review the ongoing bilateral diplomatic developments, explore the new avenues of collaboration, and identify the bottlenecks to remove them for enhancing cooperation. Similarly, the Joint Ministerial Commission meetings were held at regular intervals and the fifth meeting is expected to be held in near future.
Pakistan, being the sixth largest military power in the world and with its expertise in counter-terrorism, is also assisting its Kuwaiti counterpart in defence and eradicating the menace of terrorism. This collaboration is in line with the Resolution passed by the Parliament of Pakistan in 2015, which had advised the Government of Pakistan to enhance its friendship and cooperation with the GCC in combating extremism and terrorism. In addition, the retired personnel of Pakistan Armed Forces, especially the Air Force are working in Kuwait and there had been regular high-level exchanges of leaders of Armed forces of both nations, such as the former Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi HI (M) visited Kuwait in 2018. Such visits are a manifestation of the close and fraternal ties between the two countries.
To conclude, the level of bilateral cooperation between both Islamic nations, especially in the economic and diplomatic sphere, and the trajectory of their relations show that the leadership of both nations accords high importance to their fraternal relations and aim to grow their cooperation. However, to take this bilateral cooperation and political intimacy to next level, there is a need to capitalize on the tangible opportunities, as Pakistan can help overcome Kuwait its food security issues and similarly, Kuwait can invest in the CPEC projects and oil refineries.