In meeting with Saudi minister, PM Imran thanks kingdom for support during 'challenging times'

Published February 7, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) meets Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif (L). — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) meets Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif (L). — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif calls on Pakistani counterpart, Sheikh Rashid. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif calls on Pakistani counterpart, Sheikh Rashid. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid welcomes a Saudi delegation, led by his counterpart, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi. — APP
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid welcomes a Saudi delegation, led by his counterpart, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi. — APP

Prime Minister Imran Khan met Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif on Monday and expressed his gratitude to the kingdom for its "steadfast support to Pakistan, especially in challenging times", according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The Saudi minister, who had arrived in Islamabad along with a delegation earlier today on a day-long visit, called on the prime minister after meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Sheikh Rashid, and President Dr Arif Alvi.

According to the PMO, PM Imran particularly thanked the delegation for the recent financial budgetary support extended to Pakistan by the kingdom.

"The prime minister praised the leadership role of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in promoting Islamic unity and acknowledged the endeavours of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for peace and security in the region and beyond," the statement said.

He also lauded the vision of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for the kingdom's progress and commended "his invaluable contribution to abiding fraternal relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia".

Thanking the Saudi leadership for hosting a large Pakistani community in the kingdom, the prime minister emphasised the need for further strengthening people-to-people linkages.

Noting the conclusion of the agreement for the transfers of prisoners between the two countries, he expressed the hope that a large number of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Arabia would be repatriated to their home country through this framework.

The premier also condemned attacks by Houthi militia targeting Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support for the kingdom’s security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the PMO said.

It added that the Saudi interior minister conveyed the cordial greetings of the Saudi crown prince to the prime minister and reaffirmed close fraternal relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

"He also acknowledged the positive contribution of Pakistanis in the development of the kingdom and reiterated the resolve to work closely with the Pakistan side on all matters relating to his ministry."

Meeting between interior ministers

Earlier, Prince Abdulaziz met Pakistani counterpart, Sheikh Rashid. According to Radio Pakistan, the two ministers discussed issues of mutual interest, including the regional security situation.

"The two ministers emphasised on strengthening ties between the Ministries of Interior of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They said better liaison between ministries is needed to address various issues, including security challenges," the report said.

Rashid said that Pakistan valued its relations with Saudi Arabia as they were based on mutual trust and Islamic brotherhood.

He said that the two million Pakistanis working in the kingdom were a precious asset and thanked the Saudi government for taking excellent care of them.

Both countries have shared concerns in Afghanistan: President Alvi

Later, the Saudi delegation met President Dr Arif Alvi during which he highlighted that both countries had "shared concerns" in Afghanistan. He also urged the international community to help the Afghans in their hour of need.

According to Radio Pakistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also reiterated the importance of further strengthening and diversifying bilateral cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.

President Alvi said that the two countries had an excellent relationship which needed to be "further cemented for the mutual benefit of the two countries", the report said.

He expressed the hope that the Saudi government would give "positive consideration" to release Pakistani prisoners in the kingdom who had completed their sentences.

"The president also expressed gratitude to the Saudi leadership for launching the Road to Makkah pilot project and stated that the government of Pakistan was looking forward to its expansion to other cities of the country," the report said.

He also thanked the kingdom for its valuable support in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as its participation in the 17th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held in December, besides providing financial support to Pakistan.

Alvi also asked the visiting dignitary to convey his sincere wishes to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the report added.

The Saudi minister told the president that steps were being taken to address the issue of Pakistani prisoners by the technical teams of the two countries. He thanked the government for extending a warm welcome and hospitality to his delegation during their stay.

"The president appreciated the role and support of the kingdom for hosting over two million Pakistanis and its benevolent approach towards them during the pandemic," the report added.

Saudi minister arrives in Islamabad

The Saudi minister arrived in Islamabad earlier today. Naif, who is accompanied by a delegation, was received by his Pakistani counterpart, Sheikh Rashid, at the Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi, Rashid said in a tweet.

Interior secretary Yousaf Naseem and other senior officials were also present on the occasion, APP reported.

According to state-run Radio Pakistan, the Saudi minister is visiting Pakistan on Rashid's invitation and will hold meetings with him, as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi.

"Regional situation, release of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Arabia and other matters of mutual interest will be discussed during the visit," the Radio Pakistan report said.

Speaking about the visit during a press conference in Islamabad a day ago, Rashid had said that Pakistan had a deep, cordial and brotherly relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The interior ministers of Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc., were also being invited to visit Pakistan, he had added.

In this connection, he had further stated that the government was making all-out efforts for the return of Pakistani prisoners languishing in jails abroad.

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