ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday arrived in Doha on a two-day official visit at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The prime minister is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Adviser to the PM Abdul Razak Dawood, PM Special Assistant Zulfikar Bukhari, Board of Investment (BOI) chairman Haroon Sharif and chairperson of the task force on energy Nadeem Babar.
According to an official press release, Prime Minister Khan along with the Pakistan delegation met Qatari Prime Minister and Interior Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at his residence.
During the meeting, bilateral relations with a focus on economic cooperation were discussed. The Qatari prime minister also hosted a dinner in the honour of Prime Minister Khan and his delegation.
Besides meetings with the Qatari leadership, the prime minister will meet the business and investment community of Qatar. He will also address the Pakistani community during the visit.
Earlier, on his arrival at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Prime Minister Imran Khan was received by Qatar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi.
In December last year, Qatar had opened a visa facilitation centre in Islamabad for the swift processing of visas for the Pakistani workforce wishing to work in Qatar. Doha has also promised 100,000 jobs for Pakistani workers, and the government is in talks with the Qatari government to adjust skilled members of the labour force returning from Saudi Arabia.
Last week, petroleum minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that the prime minister may request the Qatar government to provide a credit facility for the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supplies and revise the prices during his visit to Doha.
Before this visit, Finance Minister Asad Umar and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi already paid separate visits to Doha one after another in recent weeks to streamline the issues to be discussed during the prime minister’s visit.
Changing its long-standing position, the government has decided to request Qatar for a reduction in the price of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and its supplies on delayed payments under the existing 15-year supply contract.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has been criticising the contracts signed by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for the import of LNG from Qatar at a price equivalent to 13.39 per cent of the international benchmark crude oil price, and two terminals set up by the private sector for re-gasifying imported LNG.
The petroleum minister said that the government would abide by the 15-year agreement with Qatar and another 10-year contract with another supplier that became the basis of the final LNG price with Qatar.
Pakistan’s LNG import bill roughly comes to about $4bn per annum.
It has been learnt that the government is working on comprehensive energy policy to meet energy requirements with the cooperation of countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar with huge gas reserves.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019