Irshad Salim — Saudi Arabia will soon join China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and make investment in Gwadar– the upcoming energy and trade corridor east southeast of the Middle East connecting the region to China through Pakistan on shortest possible route.
In a panel interview to Pakistani media group The News/Jang, Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Ahmed Al Malkiy spoke on the issue of strategic and bilateral trade relations between the two countries and said that solid steps were being taken for enhancement of trade between the two countries.
He said Saudi Arabia believed if Pakistan was strong, it would strengthen Saudi Arabia. Al Malkiy said that Saudi Arabia gave importance to its strategic relations with Pakistan and it could be gauged with the fact that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa after assuming the charge paid his first visit to Saudi Arabia.
Mentioning the recent visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to the Kingdom where he held meeting with crown prince Salman, he said it was agreed that new avenues be explored for enhancing trade volume between the two countries– Pakistan mainly imports oil and oil products from Saudi Arabia, which accounts for 90 percent of its total import bill, with total value of merchandise being traded between the two countries worth $2.5 billion, wrote Dr. Amir Hussain, Commercial Secretary at the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh recently in Arab News.
According to some experts, Gwadar also offers excellent opportunity for investment in oil related downstream projects as it would provide value-addition to crude oil which the Kingdom has in abundance.
“It was decided to establish two groups for enhancing the bilateral trade between the two countries,” said Al Malkiy.
He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also agreed to further enhance their cooperation in the fields of health, education, sports and others.
The Kingdom would offer scholarships to Pakistani students in the universities of Saudi Arabia for electrical and mechanical engineering, science and technology and in other fields and the process in this regard would be started in next two to three weeks, Al Malkiy said. “The exchange of experts and cultural delegations would be ensured between the two countries.”
In a reply to a question, he said, “The Muslim youth needs opportunities in the fields of science and technology as we could compete with the world only through excellence in science and technology.”
To another question, the envoy said his country had pride that every Pakistani was ready to defend the Harmain Sharifain.
Al Malkiy said the people of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had strong and brotherly relations and these would further be strengthened with the exchange of cultural delegations. “More than three million Pakistanis are playing their role in the progress and prosperity of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
He said that Islamic Coalition forces in the command of General (R) Raheel Sharif were not against anyone and its main aim was to enhance the capabilities of Muslim nations in a fight against terrorism. “Pakistan’s role in eliminating terrorism is praiseworthy,” he added.
Al-Malkiy said that the objective of giving the command of Islamic coalition forces to General (R) Raheel Sharif was to enhance the capacity building of the defense forces against terrorism and exchange and share intelligence information. He said Islam is religion of peace and it was must that scholars and intellectuals sit together for creating harmony through interfaith dialogue. “Saudi Arabia believes that interfaith dialogue is the need of time as Islam is misunderstood in Europe and Islam is a religion of peace and it has nothing to do with the terrorism,” he said and added that the King Abdullah Center was established in Riyadh, which was working for interfaith dialogue.
He said in the recent years, the interfaith dialogues were held in the United Sates and also in other countries which would not only help in creating interfaith harmony but also understanding the real message of Islam, which is peace.