Imran Khan speaks during the first Saudi-Pakistan Investment Forum in Riyadh.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 provided opportunities to Pakistan to engage with it in realising the new Pakistan’s ambitious plan.
"There are significant complementarities in the socio-economic fundamentals of ‘Naya Pakistan’ and the Saudi Vision 2030. Both lay emphasis on economic opportunity and diversity, domestic growth, modernisation and development, and trade linkages and connectivity,” the premier said in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Al Riyadh newspaper.
Imran said Pakistan could contribute manpower — both skilled and semi-skilled — and share its expertise in sectors such as IT, infrastructure development, and agriculture with the kingdom.
The premier said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have historically enjoyed long-standing fraternal ties, rooted deep in common faith, shared history, and mutual support. Both countries have stood by each other, through thick and thin, regardless of changes in leadership.
"We never had a reason to reposition our relations with Saudi Arabia in the wake of regional or international developments, in the past as well as in contemporary times. Relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time. Both the countries had a special bond for seven decades now. It is now our earnest desire to transform this relationship into a deep, diverse and mutually beneficial strategic partnership. We are now working to consolidate historical gains by exploring new and non-conventional areas of cooperation. We want our trade relations and investment cooperation to be commensurate with excellent political relations.”
Imran said that during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he had the opportunity to attend the first Saudi-Pakistan Investment Forum wherein he stressed the importance of engaging the private and corporate sectors of the two countries to realise the untapped potential in the fields of trade, business, and investment. "I am confident that the investment forum would usher in a new dynamism in our investment cooperation,” he said.
He also commended the Saudi leadership for introducing reforms in various sectors under Vision 2030.
During his visit, he said that the two countries had discussed ways to strengthen and enhance economic and trade relations by exploring areas of investment and opportunities available under Vision 2030 and Pakistan’s development priorities, emanating from a shift from geopolitics to geo-economics.
Regarding the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit on Climate Change, he said that it clearly demonstrated the commitment of Saudi leadership to take tangible steps for effectively tackling climate change.
"The ‘Green Saudi Initiative’ and ‘Green Middle East Initiative’ are remarkable for the preservation of nature and climate not only in Saudi Arabia but in the entire region. The threat that climate change poses to this planet is real and it is high time for concerted actions in the right direction,” he added.
The prime minister said Pakistan had also been working on similar projects including "Clean and Green Pakistan" and "10 Billion Tree Tsunami." "We believe that our priorities and goals converge in this regard, and we can therefore learn from each other and extend our mutual support to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”
About the role Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could play for the unity of Muslim Ummah, he said that as an important member state of the OIC, Saudi Arabia had always played a major role in uniting Muslim countries and highlighting the issues plaguing the Muslim world.
He said that he was "extremely grateful” to the kingdom on the recent announcement to deposit $3 billion, and for financing $1.2 billion refined petroleum products during the year. "This generous budgetary support will help the balance of payment of Pakistan against the backdrop of rising commodity prices globally.”
The premier said that Saudi Arabia has always extended generous support to Pakistan in its difficult times. "The latest generous gesture by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reaffirms the all-weather friendship between the two states,” he added.
Imran said the opposition parties have been blackmailing the government since day one to grant them amnesty. He said that the NRO given to the opposition by Pervez Musharraf had had disastrous effects on Pakistan, leading to an increase in debt liabilities.
"I want to pay tribute to GB scouts and those martyrs who gave sacrifices and freed this region. I wanted to congratulate people of GB on another thing: our decision to give GB provincial status. This decision has been taken while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions."
“Greening Saudi Arabia is idealistic, romantic and all my praise with you... we will share our experience of planting two and a half billion trees in Pakistan,” the premier remarked while thanking the crown prince for inviting Pakistan to the summit.
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