PM Shehbaz Sharif shakes hands with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during their meeting in Abu Dhabi, on Thursday.—PM Office
PM Shehbaz Sharif shakes hands with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during their meeting in Abu Dhabi, on Thursday.—PM Office

• Shehbaz ‘shuns begging bowl’, says mere aid ‘will take Pakistan nowhere’
• Discusses bilateral relations, cooperation in IT, renewable energy, tourism with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday claimed to have shunned the proverbial begging bowl as he secured pledges of $10 billion worth of investment in Pakistan from the the United Arab Emirates’ top leadership.

This was the second such pledge from a foreign nation in as many months, after Saudi Arabia committed to fast-tracking a $5 billion investment in Pakistan last month.

The prime minister, who arrived in the UAE on Thu­rs­day for a day-long visit, called on UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Soon after the meeting, UAE’s news agency Wam reported that the emirate has allocated “$10 billion for investment in promising economic sectors” in Pakistan.

Earlier, an official press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated that the UAE leader assured his country’s support and committed to the investment in multiple sectors.

They also discussed bilateral relations, including cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and defence sectors.

The PM “underscored the importance of galvanising existing cooperation and strengthening strategic partnership inclu­ding in the field of information technology, renewable energy and tourism”.

PM Shehbaz also highlighted steps taken by his government to ensure socio-economic stability in the country and building investors’ confidence.

He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to ensure “meaningful implementation of investment cooperation agreements” in the areas of energy, ports operations projects, wastewater treatment, food security, logistics, minerals, and banking and financial services, the statement from PMO added.

The PM thanked the UAE leadership for hosting 1.8 million Pakistani diaspora and highlighted the country’s “huge human resource potential that could be engaged in multiple sectors”.

The two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest including regional and global developments while the PM extended an invitation to the UAE president to visit Pakistan which the latter accepted.

Earlier, upon his arrival in Abu Dhabi, the premier was welcomed by the UAE vice president and deputy PM, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The PM also offered condolences on the deaths of Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohamed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan Al Nahyan, members of the ruling family.

‘Broken the begging bowl’

The prime minister also addressed a roundtable conference titled ‘Innovate together: UAE-Pakistan Tech Collaboration’ where he said that no nation had ever achieved prosperity through aid.

“Gone are the days when I will go to a brotherly country with a begging bowl. I have broken that bowl. The bowl will lead us nowhere,” he said.

“When was the last time that a country prospered through aid and bowls? Only the nations made their mark and left indelible footprints through sacrifice, hard work, sweat and blood.”

This event was organised by Pakistan Software Houses Association and Pakistan Software Export Board in collaboration with the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication and Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The PM vowed to “transform” the economy in collaboration with the UAE. “Be it a joint venture, collaboration or knowledge-sharing partnership”.

Elaborating on his government’s plans, the PM said Pakistani workers would receive the “highest standard of vocational training” so that they can find work opportunities in the UAE, set up offices and provide remote services.

“I am prepared to take that risk because nothing can be achieved without taking risks. I am ready to move forward in this field,” he said at the ceremony.

During the event, Pakistan and the UAE signed three MoUs for digital transformation.

Investment and trade

The prime minister also met the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) director general and a delegation of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In his meeting with the ADFD DG Mohammad Saif al Suwaidi, PM Shehbaz said his government’s policies and support to foreign investors were “yielding positive results” in promoting the private sector and attracting foreign investment.

PM Shehbaz also invited the fund’s delegation to visit Pakistan.

While interacting with the chamber of commerce’s delegation, the PM expressed the commitment to boost and diversify bilateral trade Later, the PM returned to the country after completing his day-long visit.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024

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