ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign on Monday a number of agreements crafted to emphasise their reinforced relationship and its significance for the regional security environment.
Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan on the first leg of his four-nation Asia tour, will meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Rashad Mehmood and army chief Gen Raheel Sharif before witnessing the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in areas ranging from trade and investment to defence and security.
A pact for dealing with organised crime and drug trafficking and accords on exchange of convicted prisoners and defence cooperation will be the highlights of the MoUs.
According to a diplomat, the agreements would serve to prop up the understanding reached on regional cooperation.
Prince Salman’s statement carried by Arab media on his visit to Pakistan was a clear hint that regional agenda would dominate the interaction.
He said the trip was for “consultation and coordination on issues of mutual concern and regional and international developments” and to explore ways for collaboration for contributing to “global peace and stability” and “supporting Islamic causes”.
Foreign Affairs and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz told Dawn after meeting Prince Salman on Sunday that he had an extensive “exchange of views on regional and global changes”, including the likely role the two countries could play for peace and stability in Afghanistan.Mr Aziz declined to disclose what had been agreed in the meeting but a reflection of that is expected to be found in the statement on the prime minister’s scheduled meeting with the crown prince.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who also called on the Saudi leader, said in a statement that cooperation in the defence sector would be strengthened.
The two agreed on “exchange of military personnel for training”, a defence ministry statement said.
Mr Asif also proposed joint ventures in defence production.
For the Pakistan government, “defence of Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the same thing. For us it is a sacred duty.”
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nizar Bin Obaid Madani said bilateral relations were moving in the “right direction”.
A Foreign Office statement on his meeting with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi quoted Dr Nizar as having said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was desirous of enhancing ties with Pakistan in diverse areas ... The two countries shared a common vision and challenges which needed to be addressed together.”
Mr Fatemi called for enhancing ties, particularly in the economic, trade and investment sectors, to “impart greater substance” to the relationship.
Both sides also held wide-ranging business-to-business interactions. The meetings went so long that an official Board of Investment event for seeking Saudi investment in projects in Pakistan had to be cancelled.
The president of the Pak-Saudi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mian Mehmood, appeared satisfied with the meetings and said the Saudis had come with a “solid message”.