PM Imran in driving seat with $20bn Saudi investment | Pakistan Today

PM Imran in driving seat with $20bn Saudi investment

  • Pakistan rolls out red carpet for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, presents guard of honour to the visiting royal guest
  • PM and MBS oversee signing ceremony of seven MoUs as ‘first phase’ of 20bn investment completes
  • Imran calls it ‘a great day for country’ as MBS sees Pakistan an emerging power in the region  

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday landed on the red carpet in Pakistan amid much fanfare and strict security for his two-day visit to the country.

Prime Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and cabinet member welcomed the prince and his delegation as the Saudi plane touched down at Nur Khan Airbase, Rawalpindi.

A formation of JF-17 Thunder and F-16 fighter jets escorted the plane of the 33-year-old prince after its entry into the Pakistani airspace. Besides, the prince was also given a 21-gun salute and a Guard of Honour upon arrival.

Ahead of MBS, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrived in the country, who was welcomed by his counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The prime minister drove MBS to the PM House in Islamabad, putting diplomatic protocol aside. Big portraits of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince MBS along with banners celebrating Pak-Saudi friendship have been put on display on the Constitution Avenue.

The prince was greeted at the PM House with a red carpet and a guard of honour ceremony. The prime minister and MBS introduced members of their respective delegations, following which the crown prince planted a sapling.

The introductory session was followed by a signing of at least seven MOUs [memorandum of understanding] to boost the bilateral cooperation in a number of areas. Imran and MBS oversaw the signing ceremony.

ONE-ON-ONE MEETING:

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a one-on-one meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Prime Minister House Sunday. The meeting was followed by inaugural session of the Supreme Coordination Council, co-chaired by both leaders.

The high-powered Supreme Coordination Council was proposed by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia in October 2018. The objective to put in place a high-level institutional mechanism to fast track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation, and for close monitoring of their implementation.

A historic moment as His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman received by Prime Minister Imran Khan on his arrival at Nur Khan Air Base.

Under the Supreme Coordination Council, a Steering Committee and Joint Working Groups have been set up at Ministerial and Senior Officials levels, to develop frameworks of cooperation in specific projects and submit recommendations to the respective Ministers.

The functioning of the Supreme Council will be coordinated by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries. The Supreme Council will meet annually, in Riyadh and Islamabad alternately.

‘FIRST PHASE OF $20BN INVESTMENT COMPLETED’:

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements in diverse fields, including energy, power, petrochemical, mineral resources and sports, to further enhance their cooperation.

The MoUs and agreements included technical cooperation programme in the field of standardisations/quality control, frame work agreement between the government of Pakistan and Saudi Fund for Development, draft MoU on the development of renewable energy products, MoU of study investment opportunities for the establishment of an integrated complex (refinery petrochemical plant), MoU in the field of mineral resources, framework for power generation, and agreement for cooperation in the field of youth and sports.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has said that the first phase of worth $20 billion investment has been completed in Pakistan.

Addressing a ceremony at the PM House on Sunday to sign MoUs between the two countries, the crown prince said that the investment will prove fruitful for both Pakistan and the Kingdom.

“Pakistani leadership is impressive and the country’s future seems quite bright,” said the crown prince.

“Pakistani leadership is impressive and the country’s future seems quite bright,” said the crown prince.

Prince Salman said that Pakistan is a very important country for Saudi Arabia and he was very pleased to visit the country. He said that the Kingdom will invest further in the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the MoU-signing ceremony, said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan always enjoyed brotherly relations. “Saudi Arabia always stood beside Pakistan in difficult times.”

The prime minister said that the two countries need to extend cooperation in tourism, petrochemicals, and other fields.

“We are taking Pak-Saudi ties to its zenith,” said the PM, adding that in future the relations would reach new heights.

‘THIS IS A GREAT DAY’:

Addressing a dinner reception held in honour of the visiting Saudi guests at the Prime Minister House, Imran said the Kingdom has always been a “friend in need” to Pakistan. “For Pakistanis, this is a great day,” he added.

“I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in [a] bad situation,” Imran 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.

PM Imran 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,” he added.

He told Mohammed bin Salman that if it hadn’t been for security concerns he “would have seen thousands and thousands of people on the streets welcoming” him.

Mohammed bin Salman said that Pakistan was going to be an important regional player in the future, and the Kingdom will not leave any stone unturned in extending support to the brotherly country.

“We have been a brotherly country to Pakistan…we have worked together in tough and good times and will continue the same thing,” Prince Mohammed said. “We believe Pakistan is going to be very very important country in the future and we want to be sure we are part of that.”

He added: “We cannot say no to Pakistan, whatever you [Imran] want we will do.”

This is the first official visit of the dignitary to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of Saudi crown prince in April 2017. He also holds portfolios of deputy prime minister and minister of defence.

During his visit, MBS will also meet President Alvi and Gen Bajwa to further ties between the two countries, besides deliberating upon a wide range of issues of mutual interests. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia aim to sign a number of new agreements and MoUs in diverse sectors.

“We have been a brotherly country to Pakistan…we have worked together in tough and good times and will continue the same thing,” Prince Mohammed said. “We believe Pakistan is going to be very important country in the future and we want to be sure we are part of that.”

He added: “We cannot say no to Pakistan, whatever you [Imran] want we will do.”

This is the first official visit of the dignitary to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of Saudi crown prince in April 2017. He also holds portfolios of deputy prime minister and minister of defence.

During his visit, MBS will also meet President Alvi and Gen Bajwa to further ties between the two countries, besides deliberating upon a wide range of issues of mutual interests

Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to sign a record investment package with Pakistan, including a $10 billion refinery and oil complex for the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman said Islamabad is seeking to sign a number of other deals, including one “combating organised crime”.

 ‘UNPRECEDENTED ARRANGMENTS’:

Pakistan rescheduled flights, blocking-off luxury hotels, and — according to one report Friday — collecting 3,500 pigeons and colourful balloons to release during a welcome ceremony for Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The crown prince had originally been due to arrive on Saturday but the Pakistan foreign ministry released a statement late Friday saying the visit had been delayed by one day, with the programme unchanged.

Banners heralding the crown prince were already lining the streets of the capital, while a local newspaper reported that the authorities were trying to catch so many pigeons for a welcome ceremony that they were forced to collect birds from other cities.

A public holiday has been declared in Islamabad on Monday in view of the occasion. After Pakistan, MBS will travel to India, where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Banners heralding the crown prince were already lining the streets of the capital, while a local newspaper reported that the authorities were trying to catch so many pigeons for a welcome ceremony that they were forced to collect birds from other cities.

Police, the armed forces, and the Saudi Royal Guards will provide security, a senior Islamabad police official told AFP.

The capital’s “red zone”, which houses Parliament House and the Presidency, was to be sealed off, while civil aviation authorities have been told to reschedule flights during the prince’s arrival and departure.

VISITS TO INDIA, CHINA:

After Pakistan, MBS will travel to India, where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

He is expected to finish the trip with a visit to China on Thursday and Friday.

Two short stops initially scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Indonesia and Malaysia were postponed on Saturday without explanation.

The Asia trip comes five months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a fierce critic of MBS, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul ignited a diplomatic crisis.

Riyadh initially denied the murder, then gave several conflicting accounts of Khashoggi’s death, and now claims he was killed in an unauthorised operation.

Turkey said Friday it has not yet revealed all the information it has uncovered in the extraordinary case, which launched a global wave of revulsion and has profoundly tarnished the image of the Kingdom, especially that of the crown prince.

But for analysts, the Asia tour — the largest outing on the international scene for the crown prince since his participation in the G20 summit in Argentina last December — is a timely demonstration to the West that he still has friends in rising Asia.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has already visited Saudi Arabia twice since coming to power last summer.

The crown prince’s visit to Islamabad apparently coincided with possible new talks between the Taliban and the United States on Afghanistan.

The militants announced the discussions would be held in Islamabad, adding they would also meet PM Imran. But the US said it has not been invited and Pakistan has not confirmed talks are being held. It was later reported that the talks will not take place on Monday.



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