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Saudi Arabia agrees to relax visa regime, reduce fees for Pakistanis


January 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Taking a sympathetic view and friendlier gesture Saudi Arabia has agreed to relax visa and reduce visa fees for Pakistanis visiting the Kingdom. It has also agreed to set up a training institute in Pakistan to help meet its human resource requirements that will enhance export of Pakistani manpower to the Kingdom.

Leader of 35-member delegation from Saudi Minister for Commerce and Investment Dr Majed Abdullah Al-Qasabi had an important meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Wednesday at the Prime Minister Office (PMO). Dr Al-Qasabi is leading a delegation to participate in the 11th Session of Pak-Saudi Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC).

The prime minister welcomed the holding of 11th session of the JMC which is expected to enhance and strengthen bilateral economic relations. Prime Minister Abbasi said the relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were important for the government of Pakistan as the people of Pakistan had a special affection for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Khadim-e-al-Harmain Al-Sharifain.

The substantive decisions taken during the meeting of the Pak-Saudi JMC were also discussed with the prime minister which included establishment of a working group for export of Halal food from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia; Saudi investment in the construction of the South-North Gas Pipeline, accelerated negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty and exchange of parliamentary delegations.

A delegation from the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development would be received in Saudi Arabia early next week, besides the executive director of NAVTTC has been invited to visit Saudi Arabia. Dr Al-Qasabi emphasized the importance attached by Saudi Arabia to the special relationship with Pakistan. He said the government believed that the people of Fata needed to be brought to the mainstream by launching a comprehensive development programme.

Earlier in a meeting with the members of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) legislature delegation Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that development and progress of the Fata was priority of the government and the PML-N government had credit for taking up the development of Fata and its people very seriously.

The delegation was comprised of PML-N office holders, presidents, vice presidents and general secretaries, hailing from various agencies of Fata and it was led by Minister of State for Safron Ghalib Khan.

The prime minister said the process of Fata reforms was already underway and said it would be accomplished as per the wishes of the people. He said the government believed that the reform and the merger process of Fata should be completed in steps so that if any issue crops up, those would be resolved timely. He said the government was determined to provide health, education, employment other basic facilities to the people of Pakistan, similar to those in the other developed areas of the country.

The meeting discussed in detail Fata reforms, construction and development projects and the issues related to the common man. The delegation was appreciative of the end of the black laws in Fata that plagued the region for past several decades and for taking practical measures for the improvement of infrastructure and lifestyle of the people.

A delegation of Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN), headed by its Chairman Shoaib Sultan Khan called on the prime minister at the PMO. The delegation included Shandana Khan, Dr Rashid Bajwa, Masoodul Mulk, Muhammad Dittal Kalhoro, Nadir Gul and Muzaffaruddin.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assured them that the government was committed not only to provide every possible support to the poor but also assist them in skill development and capacity building so that they were able to sustain themselves and permanently exit poverty traps. The prime minister appreciated the efforts of RSPN and its contributions towards poverty alleviation in various parts of the country. He also recalled the vision of the leadership of PML-N that started National Rural Support Programme in 1991.

Shoaib Sultan Khan briefed the prime minister about the functions and working of RSPN that helped the poor break off shackles of poverty thorough fostering a three-tier social mobilisation network. Shoaib said the holistic approach followed by RSPN including social networking, capacity building and human resource development, offering micro credit facility, infrastructure development, and provision of technical assistance along with necessary linkages had yielded positive results in various countries of South Asia in poverty reduction and enabling the poor earn their livelihood on sustainable basis.

He also offered that trained staff and comprehensive network of RSPN spread over the entire country could complement government’s initiatives to reach out and extract them out of vicious cycle of poverty.

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