Saudi investments | Pakistan Today

Saudi investments

  • A positive dimension in relations
The  Pak-Saudi summit has  given a new dimension to relations between the two countries. For the Saudi royalty  military ties with Pakistan had so far constituted  the most  vital aspect of mutual relations. For Islamabad on the other hand, Saudi financial assistance was the most important component of the  ties.  Saudi investments amounting to $20b have brought in mutually beneficial economic transactions  as a new factor.
Professions of mutual amity and exchange of  diplomatic pleasantries on both sides apart,  what was agreed upon on paper is the most important  part of Imran-MBS interaction. The promised  investment mostly revolves around minerals, tourism, petrochemicals, agriculture and food processing.  Does the  PTI administration  have the required capacity to implement investments of this magnitude? The performance  of the party’s economic  and financial team so far  does not  provide much confidence to one. The BOI  has made some belated though much needed  movement  on removing bureaucratic hurdles faced by potential investors. But  much more    needs to be done. Pakistan still ranks 136th  on World Bank ease of doing business index.
More than  half of the Saudi investment is directed towards petrochemicals and  minerals in Balochistan. If properly implemented this could have a highly positive impact on a federal unit that has been badly neglected so far. But mishandling the development could add to the province’s miseries. On Saturday  Balochistan Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon the federal government to ensure that the  interests and rights of the people of the province are adequately protected while reaching any agreement with Saudi Arabia.  Some of the suggestions were quite reasonable. Will Imran Khan, who has otherwise a centrist mindset, be able to address the sensitivities of the people of Balochistan?
While welcoming Saudi investment, the government will have to undertake a tight rope walk, keeping in view the polarisation in the Gulf region. Pakistan still continues to suffer from the Zia era policy of letting the  Gulf countries fight out their battles in Pakistan through  deadly proxies like Sipahe Sahaba, renamed Lashkare Jhangvi. The Saudi foreign minister’s remarks in Islamabad about Iran indicate this could happen again if Islamabad is not extra careful.