PM Shehbaz, Crown Prince Salman agree to expedite $5bn Saudi investment in Pakistan

Published April 8, 2024
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchange views during their meeting at Makkah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday. — Radio Pakistan
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif exchange views during their meeting at Makkah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday. — Radio Pakistan

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have agreed to expedite the first wave of a planned $5 billion Saudi investment package for Pakistan, according to the joint statement issued by both countries.

The two leaders had held a meeting a day ago during the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia in his first foreign trip since his election.

In January last year, the crown prince had directed the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) to study increasing the deposit amount in the State of Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to $5bn.

The move, according to the Saudi Press Agency, confirmed Saudi Arabia’s position on supporting the economy of Pakistan and its “sisterly people”.

In September 2023, then-caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had said Saudi Arabia would invest up to $25 billion in Pakistan over the next two to five years in various sectors.

Kakar, speaking to journalists at his official residence, said Saudi Arabia’s investment would come in the mining, agriculture and information technology sectors, and was part of a push to increase foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

A joint statement issued today said that the premier and the crown prince’s discussions had centred on fortifying the fraternal relations between the two nations and exploring avenues for enhanced collaboration across various sectors.

“Emphasis was placed on the kingdom’s supportive role in Pakistan’s economy and the mutual desire to strengthen trade and investment ties. Both parties affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of [an] investment package worth $5bn which was discussed previously,” it said.

It said that both leaders also exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest, including the situation in Gaza.

PM Shehbaz and the Saudi crown prince called for international efforts to halt Israeli military operations in Gaza and mitigate the humanitarian impact. They also underscored the need for the international community to pressure Israel to cease hostilities, adhere to international law and facilitate unhindered humanitarian aid access to Gaza, the statement said.

“They discussed the need for advancing the peace process in accordance with relevant resolutions of the [United Nations] Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the Arab Peace Initiative aimed at finding a just and comprehensive solution for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the statement said.

The two sides also stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, especially the Kashmir issue to ensure peace and stability in the region.

PM Shehbaz invited the crown prince to undertake an official visit to Pakistan at his earliest convenience, which was accepted by the Saudi leader.

The crown prince also extended his congratulations to Shehbaz on assuming office and “expressed warm wishes for his tenure”.

The statement said that the premier in turn conveyed gratitude for the “kingdom’s steadfast support and hospitality, and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to bolstering bilateral ties and economic cooperation”.

Pakistan’s delegation to Saudi Arabia included Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Mini­ster Khawaja Asif, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

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