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Jilani expects ‘huge’ investment from Gulf states

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  • ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Wednesday said that a huge investment is expected to come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which will help in stabilising Pakistan’s dwindling economy.

Jilani’s statement comes amid reports of a likely visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman next month to Pakistan.

During his maiden interaction with beat reporters since taking charge on August 18, 2023, the caretaker foreign minister neither confirmed nor denied the expected visit by the Saudi Crown Prince who is likely to make a brief stopover on September 10, 2023, in Islamabad on his way to attend the G20 summit being held in India’s capital New Delhi from 9-10 September.

President for increased Saudi investment in Pakistan

“Pakistan will always welcome high-level visits from Saudi Arabia,” Jilani said when asked whether the Saudi Crown Prince will arrive on a brief visit to Pakistan, as reported to take place on September 10 who is expected to hold meetings with caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir.

He said that Pakistan has a very strong affinity with Saudi Arabia, adding that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is very unique in nature having several layers of this relationship.

Highlighting Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities, the interim foreign minister said that Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries including the UAE and Qatar are “extremely” important.

“We are expecting a huge investment from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and other GCC countries … a comprehensive roadmap under the special initiative, Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), has already been prepared and shared with the partners,” he said, adding that the focus areas are agriculture, livestock, energy, renewable energy, minerals and mining.

In response to another question, the foreign minister stated that there is “absolutely” no pressure from the international community with regard to holding the general elections in the country, adding that the polls will be held on time under the constitutional timeframe.

However, he made it clear that timely conducting the general elections is the job of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “I have a strong reason to believe that the elections will be held within the constitutional timeframe,” he added.

To another query about any pressure over the interim government about the ongoing trial of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Jilani said that Pakistan does not interfere in the internal affairs of any country and it also expects the same from other countries.

About Pakistan’s relations with the United States, he said that Pakistan values its relationship with the US, adding that the focus of the relationship, which was earlier on Afghanistan, is now cooperation in various areas, including trade and economy.

He said that the bilateral trade with the US is close to $12 billion, adding that the two sides are committed to further enhance and deepen the cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.

He also asserted that Pakistan’s relations with the US were not affecting its ties with any other country, including China, adding that the US has also never asked Pakistan not to trade with any other country including China.

The caretaker foreign minister also stated that the interim government will use foreign policy as a tool to advance Pakistan’s vital interests and to make sure that good trade relations are established with all the nations.

He said that sustaining the IMF programme, and building strong ties with major powers by advancing Pakistan’s economic interest are among the priorities of the interim government.

On China-Pakistan relations, he said that China is a sincere friend and the two countries are committed to further enhancing the partnership – economic and political spheres.

He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the hallmark of this partnership, adding that the multi-billion dollars project should be seen in the context of infrastructure development, meeting the country’s energy requirements, and in the context of regional connectivity.

With the European Union, he said that the relations are very important and Pakistan is committed to further enhancing this relationship. He further stated that Pakistan is engaged with the EU on the extension of the GSP plus facility.

On India, Jilani said that a lasting peace can only be achieved with the lasting solution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, besides other outstanding issues such as the Siachen, India’s state-sponsored terrorism, and water disputes.

About Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, he said that Afghanistan is an important neighbour and Pakistan has always desired a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. He said that the trade between the two countries has increased manifold recently, adding that 1,800 to 2,000 containers cross the border every day many of which are Afghanistan-bound and others to Central Asian states. He added that the trade could further be enhanced once CPEC is extended to Afghanistan.

To a question about TTP, he said that all the attacks inside Pakistan have been carried out by the terrorists who came from outside. However, he welcomed the recent religious decree by the Afghan Taliban’s supreme leader forbidding terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Furthermore, he added that Pakistan also values its relations with other countries, including Iran, Turkiye, Russia, and others in the region and beyond.

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