Saudi Arabia keen to expand ties with new Pak govt

Islamabad, Aug 10, IRNA -- Recent Saudi engagements with the new government in Pakistan explicitly state kingdom’s desire of having strong relationship with Pakistan despite the fact that latter had already announced its keenness for stronger ties with Iran.

Recently Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad had visited Pakistan to discuss bilateral and regional situation with the new Pakistani government in the country.

He met President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, besides having a meeting with Federal Minister for Infor­mation and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry.

While speaking to the Saudi minister, Mr Imran Khan underscored the strong bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Expressing satisfaction at the pace of progress in bilateral relations, he called for sustaining the momentum through tangible progress on areas identified for bilateral cooperation.

He invited greater investment by Saudi public and private sectors in petroleum, energy, livestock and agriculture sectors.

He also emphasised the need for addressing the current imbalance in bilateral trade between the two countries, which is tilted in favour of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi minister conveyed to Mr Khan the felicitations of Saudi leadership on assuming the office and invited him to visit Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with IRNA, Syed Qandil Abbas, Professor of Politics and International Relations at Qauid-e-Azam University said this is not a new development in Pakistan-Saudi ties as leaders of the two countries have been meeting with each other regularly.

“Whenever the government changes in Pakistan the Saudis try to win the confidence of Pakistani leadership on priority basis and vice versa,” he said.

He added that the previous Pakistan government did not come upto the expectations of the Saudi Arabia as the Parliament of the country had not permitted the government to send troops in the Yemen war. Syed Qandil Abbas went on to say that Saudis were not expecting such response from Pakistan.

He said that coalition force led by Saudi Arabia has also failed to produce any results and countries like Pakistan are not contributing much towards this alliance.

He said that new Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan during his 22 years of political struggle has been praising the Islamic Revolution and the struggle of the Iranian nation against the world pressure.

The analyst said that the Saudi government wants to fix the faults that had occurred during the tenure of previous Pakistani government in Saudi-Pakistan ties and they also want to make sure that Imran Khan does not fully tilt towards Iran.

It is pertinent to mention that Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Culture and Information was guest of honor at the oath taking of Pakistan’s new President Arif Alvi.

Talking to reporters at the Nur Khan Airbase before his departure for Saudi Arabia, Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said he had very fruitful and positive discussions with Pakistani dignitaries during his visit.

He hoped for strengthening the Pak-Saudi relations during the tenure of the newly elected government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would work together to expand cooperation in diverse fields including media and strengthen the existing warm ties.

Pakistan foreign ministry in a statement said Saudi Minister for Information, Dr. Awwad Bin Saleh Al Awwad, met with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He expressed the desire of the Saudi government to work closely with the new government in Pakistan, to start a fresh chapter in the bilateral relations.

The Pakistani foreign minister emphasized the need to activate all existing institutional mechanisms between the two countries, to take the bilateral relations to the next level.

Analysts say that Pakistan-Saudi ties are heading in a direction where the relation is becoming institutionalized increasingly addressing both countries’ strategic interests.

Earlier Pakistan’s parliament had passed a resolution proposing that Pakistan 'should maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict so as to be able to play a proactive diplomatic role to end the crisis”.

The session was summoned after the Saudi government approached Islamabad for Pakistani warplanes, warships and soldiers to assist in the conflict and join the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen.

Pakistan also remained neutral on Saudi blockade of Qatar and continues to develop strong ties with the Persian Gulf state. Pakistan and Qatar had also signed agreement for import of LNG from Qatar.

Earlier Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani had invited Imran Khan for an official visit to the Kingdom. Al-Thani on Tuesday telephoned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and congratulated him on elections win.

A media report has once said that the number of Pakistani labourers recruited by Saudi Arabian employers dropped despite the fact that the kingdom has remained the busiest corridor for Pakistani migrants higher than in any year since 2005.

The high taxation by the Saudi government has forced thousands of Pakistani families, especially the low-income and middle-class families, to plan their return to Pakistan under circumstances of uncertainty and unaffordability.
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