ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 provides opportunities to Pakistan to engage with the Gulf country in realising Naya Pakistan’s ambitious plan owing to their complementarities in the socioeconomic fundamentals.

“I must say that there are significant complementarities in the socio-economic fundamentals of the 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,” PM Khan said in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al Riyadh newspaper published on Sunday.

The prime minister said Pakistan could contribute manpower — both skilled and semi-skilled — besides sharing its expertise in other sectors such as information technology, infrastructure development and agriculture. He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had historically enjoyed long-standing fraternal ties, rooted deep in common faith, shared history and mutual support. Both countries had stood by each other, through thick and thin, regardless of the change in leadership, he added.

Says the kingdom’s latest generosity reaffirms its time-tested friendship with Pakistan

“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 as in contemporary times. Relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time,” he remarked.

The prime minister said both the countries had a special bond for seven decades. “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 commensurate with excellent political relations,” he said.

He said in his address to the Saudi-Pakistan Investment Forum during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia he highlighted the importance of engaging the private and corporate sectors of both countries to realize 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,” he said.

In reply to a question, the prime minister commended the Saudi leadership for introducing reforms in various sectors under Vision 2030.

He said during his recent visit 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.

About the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit on Climate Change, Mr Khan said it clearly demonstrated Saudi leadership’s commitment to tackle climate change.

He said the threat that climate change posed to this planet was real and it was high time for concerted actions in the right direction. Pakistan had also been working on similar projects including Clean and Green Pakistan and 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, he added.

“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.

PM Khan also expressed gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for announcement of depositing $3 billion and financing $1.2 billion refined petroleum products during the year. He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had longstanding and historic fraternal relations, and the latter had always extended generous support to the former in its difficult times.

The latest generous gesture by the kingdom reaffirmed the all-weather friendship between the two states, he said.

About the role Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could play for unity of Ummah, the PM said Saudi Arabia, being an important member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, had always played a major role in uniting Muslim countries and highlighting the issues plaguing the Muslim world.

He explained that the member states at the 47th session of OIC’s council of foreign ministers held in Niamey last year had unanimously adopted Pakistan’s initiated resolution on Islamophobia. The rising threat in the West towards Islam was 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,” he added.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was home to the two holy mosques, it had a natural leadership role to play for the Ummah, he said, vowing that Pakistan would be at the forefront to collaborate in the endeavour.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021

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