ISLAMABAD: Seeking another bailout package, this time from Qatar, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday assured overseas Pakistanis in Doha that he would turn the motherland into a developed and economically strong country.
During his two-day official visit to Qatar that began on Monday, the prime minister met Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, business community of Qatar and overseas Pakistanis, according to the Prime Minister Office.
The red carpet was rolled out to welcome Prime Minister Khan at the Diwan-i-Amiri where a formal ceremony was held in his honour. He was presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned-out contingent of the Qatari Amiri Guards, and the national anthems of both countries were played.
A one-to-one meeting was held between Prime Minister Khan and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim. They discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral ties and regional and international matters of mutual interest. The two sides also held delegation-level talks.
Imran holds meetings with Qatari emir, businessmen; addresses public meeting in capital
The Pakistani side asked the Qatari government to reduce the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and make its supplies on deferred payments under the existing 15-year supply contract. Presently Pakistan’s LNG import bill is said to be $4 billion per year.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government has been criticising the contracts signed by the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for LNG import 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.
Before this, Prime Minister Khan obtained economic bailout packages from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the PM Office, during the PM’s visit to Qatar, all issues of bilateral nature were discussed, particularly the strengthened economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The emir of Qatar hosted a lunch for the prime minister and the members of his delegation.
Prime Minister Khan also met Chairman of the Qatar Businessmen Association (QBA) Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim bin Faisal Al-Thani and Hussain Alfardan, one of the Middle East’s leading businessmen.
The QBA chairman conveyed interest of Qatari businessmen in investing in Pakistan. The investment areas include hospitality, large-scale manufacturing, transportation and food production.
The meeting was followed by another meeting with Hassan Al-Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, who briefed the prime minister on FIFA 2022 World Cup preparations. He promised to focus on encouraging skilled manpower import from Pakistan.
Sheikh Nawaf Bin Nasser Bin Khaled Al-Thani, a representative of the NBK group, also called on the prime minister.
The prime minister also met a delegation of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce led by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Jassim Bin Mohammed Al-Thani and including leading importers of the Gulf state.
The meeting concluded with a resolve to increase imports from Pakistan and providing a bilateral framework of trade which will enhance Pakistani exports to Qatar.
Representatives of the Sikh community in Qatar also called on the prime minister and thanked him for the groundbreaking of Kartarpur Corridor which was the longstanding desire of the community globally.
PM addresses public meeting
Speaking at a public meeting at Al Wakara Stadium in Doha that was organised by the Qatari government, Prime Minister Khan said his government would boost tourism to such an extent that it would help stable the crippling economy of Pakistan. “We will generate so much money through tourism that we will have no need to get dollars from abroad,” he added.
“I am happy to address overseas Pakistanis in my first public gathering after become prime minister,” the prime minister said.
He said Pakistan had the potential of four types of tourism — historical, beach, religious and mountains — even then the country was lagging behind in this field as compared to other countries which had only one type of tourism. “Malaysia has only beach tourism while Turkey has beach and historical tourism but their annual income from it is $20bn and $40bn, respectively,” he added.
The prime minister did not miss an opportunity to criticise previous rulers of the country saying they had looted the country with both hands. “The way Pakistan was looted with both hands no other country could survive if it would have happened there.”
Reacting to the remarks of Imran Khan, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said the prime minister was introducing Pakistan as a “corrupt” state before the world.
The prime minister said he had met a number of foreign investors and heads of renowned firms who had wanted to invest in Pakistan but could not do so due to “corruption” and “complicated” tax regime. “Now we have reduced number of taxes from 36 to 16 and as far as corruption is concerned, you should not be worried about it. Not a single scandal of the incumbent government has come to fore in its first five months.”
Terming overseas Pakistanis “backbone” of the country, he said Pakistan was running because of remittances being sent by expatriate Pakistanis. “The time is not far away when people will come to Pakistan for jobs,” he claimed by assuring participants of the public gathering that people would soon get fruits of sagacious policies of the government.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019