ISLAMABAD: In the next two weeks Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit three friendly countries where he is likely to seek monetary assistance, according to sources.

Mr Khan would leave on an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday (today), said the sources. He would embark on a visit to Malaysia later this month and to China early next month.

A member of the federal cabinet said the prime minister was likely to take up the issue of financial aid with his hosts in the three friendly countries because Pakistan badly needed assistance to ease the ongoing economic crisis.

He said the government immediately needed $12 billion to $13bn to ease the financial crisis and retire foreign debt. “We need $8bn to retire foreign debt and $5bn to run the affairs of government,” he said.

“If we get good monetary support from our friendly countries then there is a possibility that we will not require support of the International Monetary Fund [IMF],” he added.

Imran likely to discuss financial assistance with his hosts

According to the Foreign Office, Prime Minister Khan is going to Riyadh on the special invitation of King Salman bin Abdel Aziz to participate in the Future Investment Initiative conference being held there from Tuesday to Thursday.

Interestingly, several countries have announced their decision to boycott the conference in reaction to the death of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. But it is believed that the Riyadh conference, dubbed “Davos in the desert”, will still be attended by many leading businesspersons, investors, representatives of industry and media outlets.

Visit to Malaysia

The cabinet member said the prime minister would visit Malaysia for two days (Oct 28 and 29) and would meet his Malaysian counterparts and other government functionaries.

In his recent telephonic conversation with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Mr Khan had expressed his desire to learn from their experiences. He had also accepted the veteran leader’s invitation to visit Malaysia.

Prime Minister Khan wants to see the two countries collaborate with each other in various fields, according to the sources. It is expected that bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries will be strengthened as a result of the visit.

Shift in CPEC projects

Prime Minister Khan would embark on an official visit to China on Nov 3. There he will discuss in detail the strategic relations between the two countries.

During his meetings in the friendly country, Mr Khan would inform the Chinese leadership that his government wanted to bring about a significant shift in the projects falling under the purview of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said the sources.

Under the previous government there was an emphasis on infrastructure schemes, but the present government wanted projects involving agriculture, job creation and foreign investment take centre stage.

Reports, meanwhile, have said that due to suspension of funding to CPEC’s infrastructure projects, the National Highway Authority’s (NHA) road projects worth over Rs1 trillion have been adversely affected. Many projects in the energy sector have also been hit.

The affected projects include the 210km Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob road, the 110km Khuzdar-Basima road and a 136km portion of the Karakoram Highway.

In a recent meeting about his visit to China, Prime Minister Khan said that early implementation of the CPEC projects would help realise the true potential of the economic ties between the two countries.

He emphasised the need for early establishment of Special Economic Zones in various parts of the country and hoped these zones would help the local industry grow, creating huge employment opportunities for the youth.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2018

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