Monday July 22, 2024

Shehbaz concludes visit to Saudi Arabia: Islamabad, Riyadh vow to speed up ‘first wave’ of $5bn investment

This was first meeting between Prince Salman and a Pakistani PM after removal of Imran Khan government

By Mariana Baabar
April 09, 2024
Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchange views during their meeting in Makkah, on April 7, 2024. — SPA
Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchange views during their meeting in Makkah, on April 7, 2024. — SPA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in a joint statement on Monday affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of investment package of $5 billion, which was discussed previously, with Jeddah’s commitment to support Pakistan economically.

The announcement came a day after an official meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah, said the Foreign Office.

This was the first meeting between Prince Salman and a Pakistani prime minister after the removal of the Imran Khan government.

There were no further details of this hefty package but last year, caretaker prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar had announced that Saudi Arabia would invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the next two to five years in various sectors, adding the government would also revive the stalled privatisation process. “The discussions at the Al-Safa Palace centered on fortifying the fraternal relations between the two brotherly nations and exploring avenues for enhanced collaboration across various sectors. Emphasis was placed on the Kingdom’s supportive role in Pakistan’s economy and the mutual desire to strengthen trade and investment ties,” added the Foreign Office. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir was also raised by both sides with Pakistan agreeing that there should be a dialogue with India to solve all issues.

This dialogue, said the joint statement, was important for both sides to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to ensure peace and stability in the region. Unlike in the past, there was no mention by Pakistan to ensure that Kashmir was resolved according to the UN resolutions.

“Both leaders also exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest, including the worrying situation in Gaza. They urged for international efforts to halt Israeli military operations in Gaza, mitigate humanitarian impact and underscored the imperative for the international community to pressure Israel to cease hostilities, adhere to the international law, and facilitate unhindered humanitarian aid access to Gaza,” added the joint statement.

Both sides also discussed the need for advancing the peace process in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the Arab Peace Initiative aimed at finding a just and comprehensive solution, for establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

While the crown prince extended his congratulations to Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on assuming the office, he accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience. He last visited Pakistan in 2019 when PTI’s Imran Khan was the prime minister.

Later in the day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Lahore after wrapping up his visit to the Kingdom. At the Jeddah International Airport, he was seen off by Governor Jeddah Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Jalawi, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.