THE bonds of friendship and fraternity that exist between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are unique and these can be witnessed from frequent high level exchanges between the two countries. PM Imran Khan paid a visit, fourth since May 2019, to the Kingdom on Saturday where he held wide-ranging talks with top Saudi leadership focusing on bilateral relations and regional situation.
Prior to visit, a perception was created that all is not well between the two countries due to Pakistan’s decision to attend Kuala Lumpur Summit. We understand that those who are not happy over Pak-Saudi everlasting relationship spread such rumours. The cordiality shown by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman during his meeting with Imran Khan and then the Crown Prince as a special gesture seeing the PM off at Riyadh International Airport would definitely have frustrated those who wanted to cultivate seeds of differences between the two countries. The meeting between the Crown Prince and the PM in fact provided an opportunity to both sides to discuss future course of action to expand their relations in different fields. As we are striving to promote tourism sector, the Saudi side offered all possible support to Pakistan in its development. In this context it was also decided that a Saudi team would undertake a visit to Pakistan soon. Indeed under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the Kingdom has opened greatly for foreign tourists and Pakistan certainly can benefit from its experience and build necessary infrastructure with Saudi support to attract tourists from other countries.
The Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan in February this year had ushered in a new era of deeper engagements in various domains including economic investment, energy, security, defence and people to people contact. The visit saw Saudi Arabia announcing an investment package of $20b that also included Saudi investment in an oil refinery in Gwadar. Both sides need to step up efforts to early realisation of this investment that in fact will go a long way in further diversifying their bilateral relationship. As regards Kuala Lumpur Summit, we believe that Saudi Arabia is an important country of the Islamic world and we are confident that Saudi Crown Prince will personally attend this Summit on the invitation of Malaysian friends in order to discuss and formulate a way forward to address various challenges being presently faced by Muslim world. This Summit may also discuss as to how the OIC can be revitalised to live up to the expectations of Muslims across the globe.