ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Emirati Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday agreed on improved bilateral ties.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephone conversation with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” the Prime Minister Office said.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the existing close fraternal relations between Pakistan and the UAE and reiterated the resolve to further solidify and strengthen the multifaceted bilateral relationship,” it added.
The telephone call took place in the backdrop of reports that the UAE had rolled over its $1 billion loan for Pakistan for another year. The UAE had in 2019 provided $2bn to Pakistan to strengthen its foreign exchange reserves. The remaining loan of $1bn would mature in March and is also likely to be rolled over.
Relations between the two countries turned lukewarm last year because of geopolitical developments. The UAE last November enforced visa restrictions for Pakistanis because of security considerations. There were also reports of Pakistani expatriates facing difficulties in renewal of their permits and other instances of discrimination. Some Pakistanis were picked up by the Emirati security agencies.
Nearly 1.2 million Pakistanis live and work in the UAE, who send back approximately $5bn in remittances annually. The Emirati restrictions on Pakistanis meant increased financial pressure on the country.
Most of the jobs being lost by Pakistanis in UAE, according to local manpower recruiters, are going to the Indians.
Islamabad was, therefore, quick to move to mend fences with the UAE.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited UAE in December, where he took up issues pertaining to welfare of Pakistani diaspora in the Emirates with the Emirati government.
Mr Qureshi, while speaking in the Senate on Monday, said he was assured by his Emirati counterpart that UAE values its ties with Pakistan and growth in their relations with India would not be at the cost of Pakistan.
Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed was in Pakistan on a private hunting trip in January. He, however, unlike previous years did not visit Islamabad.
The PMO said that Mr Khan and MbZ, during their telephone conversation, agreed to continue working closely to enhance bilateral ties as well as cooperation in multilateral organisations.
“They also exchanged views on Covid-19 pandemic and regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.
APP adds: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday while stressing on vocational training and skill development said imparting modern skill training could better help explore the youth’s potential.
Chairing a meeting for promotion of knowledge economy in the country, the prime minister said technical and professional training should be designed in accordance with market needs besides building a strong link between educational institutions and the market.
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, secretaries of planning and education ministries, head of Task Force on Science and Technology Dr Attaur Rehman, Prof Shoaib Khan, Prof Nasir Khan and senior officers attended the meeting.
At another meeting, Prime Minister Khan held out the assurance that federal government would extend all out support to promote tourism and environmental and forest conservation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The prime minister while meeting some parliamentarians assured them of expansion of Swat Motorway.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2021