ISLAMABAD (Dec 20, 2018) — Middle East’s two key players eye Pakistan as part of its look East initiative amid emergence of the latter from vistage of terrorism acts and its look southwest policy.
All three countries with a common religious and cultural bonding have similar goals in mind–tapping into the dynamics of an emerging multipolar global order.
Also, for Pakistan the giveaways and takeaways skew in its favor specially with the buildup of a multibillion dollar trade and energy corridor called the Pakistan China Economic Corridor.
What’s also a factor to reckon with is that the two middle eastern heavy weights’ sovereign wealth fund have a combined value in excess of US$2.8 trillion that has been making oil and non-oil related investments overseas. Pakistan could be their closest pit-stop–the country’s newly elected premier Imran Khan has developed right chemistry with the two countries, observers say.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan will visit Islamabad in early 2019, announced Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman on the telephone,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry to media persons after federal cabinet’s meeting.
The information minister, who was addressing a press briefing following the meeting, revealed that the crown prince of the UAE will visit in January, while the crown prince of the Kingdom will visit Pakistan in February.
The information minister said an incoming investment package from Saudi Arabia promises to be “the biggest foreign investment in Pakistan’s history”, adding that the draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be finalized within a week.
In an unrelated development, last week UAE hosted Pakistan initiated US-Taliban talks for peace in Afghanistan in which the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan participated–three representatives of the Haqqani network were also present at the talks, reported AP.
After taking the oath, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made his maiden visit to the Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia and UAE. During his meeting with the Royals, the prime minister discussed matters of regional and bilateral interest. The leaders also talked about economic relations between the two countries.
The Saudi crown prince had hosted a dinner for Imran Khan and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations as well as steps that can be taken to enhance cooperation in political, defense, economic, commercial and cultural sectors.
It was then that the premier had extended an invitation for the Saudi crown prince to visit Pakistan, which he had accepted.
In October, at a time when various countries and business delegations were pulling out of the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) in Riyadh following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Imran Khan had attended the event, inviting foreign investors to invest into projects in Pakistan.
The visit led to an uptick in bilateral relations with a $6 billion immediate economic assistance to Pakistan from the Kingdom including assurances of investments and heightened trade.
The two middle eastern countries also host the largest community member of Pakistani Diaspora and send the highest amount of remittances to Pakistan.