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President Mamnoon Hussain. — File photo
President Mamnoon Hussain. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Amid controversy over $1.5 billion received by the Nawaz government from Saudi Arabia, President Mamnoon Hussain backed on Tuesday the government’s policy and expressed the hope that it would help overcome the prevailing economic crisis.

“The aid has not been received from a smuggler but from a friendly country and it will be used for the welfare of the country and people,” the president said during a meeting with newly-elected office-bearers of National Press Club (NPC) who called on him at the Presidency on Tuesday.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz told parliament on Monday that the $1.5 billion aid had been given by Saudi Arabia.

“The hue and cry is being made on the aid given by a brotherly country,” the president said.

He said the government was trying to rid the country of crisis and, therefore, different steps were being taken.

The opposition has strongly criticised the government for obtaining $1.5 billion grant from Saudi Arabia at the cost of Pakistan’s foreign policy on Syria.

According to a press release issued by the NPC, the president said that borders should not become a hurdle in the way of friendly relations among different counties.

“Sometimes one has to adopt hypocrisy in international relations,” the press release quoted the president as saying.

The president said that it was the desire of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan should have friendly relations with all neighbouring countries. “Aman Ki Asha is a slogan of an organisation, but the prime minister wants friendly relations with all neighbours,” he added.

Talking about his recent visit to China, the president claimed that China would invest $32 billion over the next five years in Pakistan which included investment in 22,000MW electricity generation facility, in a nuclear power project in Karachi, a 4,000km rail and road link from Kashgar to Gwadar to Karachi, the Karachi Motorway, the Gwadar International Airport, Development of Gwadar Port and the Orange Train project in Lahore.

Besides, he said, some defence agreements would also be signed between Pakistan and China in near future.

He said once Pakistan became an economic corridor it would benefit several countries of the region.