Will personally monitor Saudi investment projects, no laxity to be tolerated: PM Shehbaz

Published April 18, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting on Saudi investment in Islamabad on Thursday. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting on Saudi investment in Islamabad on Thursday. — PID

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said he would personally monitor the completion of projects with Saudi investment, adding that negligence regarding these ventures was not acceptable.

Chairing a meeting in Islamabad to review matters related to the visit of a recent high-powered Saudi delegation and Saudi investment in different sectors, the premier said the trip under the leadership of the Saudi foreign minister was the beginning of a “new era of commercial and strategic partnership” between the two countries, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The meeting’s participants were briefed that the Saudi delegation discussed investment in mining and minerals, agriculture, energy, information technology and infrastructure development.

They were also told that both sides had deliberated on making Pakistan a part of the global supply and value chain while the Saudi delegation had also praised Pakistan’s preparedness.

The participants termed the arrival of delegations of friendly countries for foreign investment as a “positive development” for the current government’s diplomatic front.

The prime minister directed all the concerned ministries and departments to pay special attention to government-to-government agreements and business-to-business projects, adding that the local business community should be taken into confidence regarding the matters.

He thanked Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his “special attention that would usher in a new era of Saudi investment in Pakistan, trade partnership and business ties”.

PM Shehbaz lauded the relevant federal ministers, Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and relevant senior officers for their efforts to convert the Saudi delegation’s visit into a mutually beneficial partnership.

He instructed that the services of world-renowned experts should be taken to complete the international investment projects.

The prime minister warned that any negligence regarding international investment projects would not be accepted, adding that outdated procedures and red tape would “not work at all”.

He said that the SIFC, the investment board and relevant ministries should formulate a plan of action for the completion of the projects.

The premier said that the expected arrival of a delegation of well-known businessmen from Saudi Arabia was a welcome development, adding that more investment opportunities were to be finalised during his visit to Saudi Arabia to attend the World Economic Forum.

He added that the two countries enjoyed cordial brotherly ties, adding that Saudi Arabia had always helped Pakistan when needed.

PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan would take all possible measures to achieve the goal of national development and prosperity.

Meeting with EU ambassador

In a separate meeting held today, the premier met the Ambassador of the European Union in Pakistan Riina Kionka in the capital and discussed matters of mutual concern.

The prime minister thanked the EU leaders for their congratulatory messages on his re-election and said he looked forward to working closely with the EU.

He said Pakistan enjoyed friendly and cordial ties with the EU and expressed satisfaction at the existing institutional mechanisms that were meeting regularly to exchange views on further strengthening cooperation.

The prime minister appreciated, in particular, the EU’s continued support to Pakistan through the GSP Plus scheme, which has now been renewed till 2027.

He also expressed Pakistan’s interest in engaging constructively with the EU Global Gateway Strategy through the European Investment Bank.

The prime minister sought EU support in providing consultancy and expertise to help Pakistan carry out important reforms in various sectors.

The EU ambassador briefed the prime minister on various cooperation initiatives, including the ongoing dialogue on migration and mobility issues between the two sides, as well as facilitating European businesses operating in Pakistan.

Progress on resumption of flights from Pakistan to EU countries was also discussed.

Defence, information minister criticise PTI for Saudi remarks

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that it was unfortunate that parties attempted to disrupt Pakistan’s foreign relations for political gain, especially with a country that holds “religious and economic importance”, referring to Saudi Arabia.

He said that such remarks were given by the parties to spread anarchy for personal political motives of dissuading investment in Pakistan.

Separately, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said that anyone who talked against these investment efforts was an “enemy of the state”, adding that the country was moving towards development.

He stated that it was not appropriate to go against Pakistan while opposing a party for political reasons.

“Criticise us, criticise us on our politics, criticise the party, criticise me but criticism on Pakistan is intolerable,” he said.

Their remarks came a day after the PTI censured and distanced itself from remarks by party leader Sher Afzal Marwat regarding Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the toppling of former prime minister Imran Khan’s government in 2022.

In an interview on GTV news programme G for Gharidah on Tuesday, Marwat had said: “These are the two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United States, with whose cooperation the regime change operation took place.”

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