Thursday December 02, 2021

Pakistan paying no price for Saudi assistance: Qureshi

May 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Tuesday said Pakistan would welcome the third-party facilitation by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) or any other country for resumption of talks with India.

“Pakistan is ready for third-party facilitation. It is India that has always shied away from it,” he said in a press conference held here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Asked if the Saudi assistance to Pakistan would lead to favours in return, he said, “Pakistan is not paying a price. It knows its own interests. Diplomacy is not an instant job, but one has to chip and work on the matters through persistent efforts. Pakistan will protect its interests in any case,” he added.

He said the $500 million Saudi fund would help Pakistan to meet its energy needs through development of hydropower projects. He said Saudi Arab had a special place in Muslim community which looked towards it for a leadership role, saying that Pakistan welcomed initiation of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tension.

Qureshi said Saudi Arabia was the friend of Pakistan and also had business ties with India, which was a big importer of Saudi oil. He recalled that the ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India was welcomed by the world including Saudi Arabia.

On Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the foreign minister said it led to development of a ‘positive understanding’ at both sides that promoting their mutual relationship was need of the hour. He said besides agreement on investments, bilateral trade and creation of job opportunities, the extraordinary development was putting in place for the first time an institutionalized mechanism with three pillars - security, economic and cultural and soft image, and chalking out who would be leading the respective areas.

“This Saudi visit was different in a sense that it defeated the designs of the elements that were trying to create a wedge between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Now, it is a win-win cooperation,” he said.

Qureshi said under the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince, around 10 million workforce was required in next few years and the leadership wanted to allocate a big chuck for Pakistanis. “In addition to blue-collar jobs, we have to prepare our workforce for the white-collar jobs through their capacity-building at professional sides,” he said.

Regarding the prime minister’s recent criticism on foreign missions, he said the purpose was to bring improvement and avoid negligence aimed at facilitating the overseas Pakistanis. However, he pointed that it was unnecessary to make public an in-house meeting as several officials, though worked at the embassies were reporting to their own ministries and not Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The foreign minister vowed to ‘never let down the morale of diplomats,’ adding that a task force headed by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood had been established and input asked from the missions abroad.