Prime Minister Imran Khan has thanked Saudi Arabia for its $3 billion financial support to Pakistan announced earlier this week, saying "the budgetary support will help the balance of payment of Pakistan in the backdrop of rising commodity prices globally."
Saudi Arabia had agreed to revive its financial support to Pakistan, including about $3 billion in safe deposits and $1.2bn to $1.5bn worth of oil supplies on deferred payments; an agreement to this effect was reached during the premier's three-day visit to the kingdom earlier this week,
“I am extremely grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the recent announcement to deposit US $3 billion and financing $1.2 billion refined petroleum products during the year," Prime Minister Imran said in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Riyadh newspaper published on Sunday.
He said Pakistan and the kingdom had long-standing and historic fraternal relations, rooted deep in common faith, shared history and mutual support. Saudi Arabia has always extended generous support to Pakistan in its difficult times.
“The latest generous gesture by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reaffirms the all-weather friendship between the two states,” the premier added.
'Rising threat to Islam'
About the role Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could play for the unity of the Muslim world, the prime minister said as an important member state of the OIC, Saudi Arabia had always played a major role in uniting Muslim countries and highlighting the issues plaguing the Muslim world.
In the 47th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in 2020 in Niamey, the organisation had unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by Pakistan regarding Islamophobia.
“The rising threat in the West towards Islam is a universal point of concern. We believe in harmony and peaceful coexistence as terrorism has never been and shall never be the true face of Islam,” Imran emphasised.
He said Saudi Arabia was home to the Two Holy Mosques, therefore, it had a natural leadership role to play for the Muslim ummah and Pakistan would be at the forefront to collaborate in the endeavour.
'Opportunities for Pakistan in Saudi Vision 2030'
The prime minister underlined that owing to their complementarities in the socioeconomic fundamentals, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 provided opportunities for Pakistan to engage with the kingdom in realising the government's ambitious plan for Pakistan.
“I must say that there are significant complementarities in the socio-economic fundamentals of 'Naya Pakistan' and the Saudi Vision 2030. Both lay emphasis on economic opportunity and diversity, domestic growth, modernisation and development, and trade linkages and connectivity,” the premier noted.
He said Pakistan could contribute manpower — both skilled and semi-skilled, besides sharing its expertise in sectors like IT, infrastructure development, and agriculture.
“We never had the reason to reposition our relations with Saudi Arabia in the wake of regional or international developments — in the past as well in as contemporary times. Relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time,” Prime Minister Imran remarked.
He said both the countries had a special bond for seven decades now.
“It is now our earnest desire to transform this relationship into a deep, diverse and mutually beneficial strategic partnership. We are now working to consolidate historical gains by exploring new and non-conventional areas of cooperation. We want our trade relations and investment cooperation to be commensurate with excellent political relations,” he said.
He said during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia he had the opportunity to attend the first Saudi-Pakistan Investment Forum where he stressed the importance of engaging the private and corporate sectors of the two countries to realise the untapped potential in the fields of trade, business and investment.
“I am confident that the Investment Forum would usher in a new dynamism in our investment cooperation.”
To a question, he commended the Saudi leadership for introducing reforms in various sectors under Vision 2030.
During the visit, he said, the two countries had discussed ways to strengthen and enhance economic and trade relations by exploring areas of investment and opportunities available under Vision 2030 and Pakistan’s development priorities emanating from a shift from geopolitics to geo-economics.
Regarding the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit on Climate Change, the premier said it clearly demonstrated the commitment of the Saudi leadership to take tangible steps for effectively tackling the challenge of climate change.
The 'Green Saudi Initiative' and 'Green Middle East Initiative' are remarkable initiatives for the preservation of nature and climate not only in Saudi Arabia but in the entire region. The threat that climate change poses to the planet is real and it is high time for concerted actions in the right direction, Prime Minister Imran added.
He said Pakistan had also been working on similar projects including 'Clean and Green Pakistan' and the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami.
“We believe that our priorities and goals converge in this regard and we can therefore learn from each other and extend our mutual support to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” he commented.