PM in Riyadh to help solve ME crisis

  • Will attend Bahrain’s National Day today
  • Misunderstandings with Saudis stand eradicated: FM
  • Visit to strengthen strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia: Firdous

From Abdul Rasheed
RIYADH: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan would continue to facilitate efforts to resolve all disputes in the Middle East through diplomatic means to preclude conflict. The reiteration of Pakistan’s viewpoint by the prime minister came in his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Riyadh on Saturday.
Premier Imran, who was on a daylong visit to the oil-rich kingdom, held wide-ranging consultations with the Saudi prince covering bilateral matters and developments in the regional context, according to a statement issued by the foreign ministry in Islamabad.
The prime minister’s visit – which is part of regular exchanges between the leaderships of the two countries – came on the heels of a whirlwind trip by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who, accompanied by Pakistan’s spy chief, toured Riyadh four days back to lay the groundwork for Imran’s trip.
This was the prime minister’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since May 2019, which reflects the importance attached by Pakistan to this strategic partnership, according to the statement. Imran emphasised the strategic importance of Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relationship and termed it a “pivotal partnership for peace, progress, and prosperity”. In the bilateral context, the prime minister underscored the unique strength of Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations, based on mutual trust and understanding.
He noted that high-level visits were the hallmark of the relationship and the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan in Feb 2019 had ushered in a new era of deeper engagement across the economic, investment, energy, security and defence, and people-to-people domains.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing bilateral cooperation between the two countries. They reiterated their determination to take bilateral relations to a new level.
It was noted that the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council had provided a firm institutional mechanism to advance cooperation in diverse fields in a robust manner. The two sides hoped to further advance this process during the second meeting of the council expected to take place early next year.
“In the context of the Middle East, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s perspective that disputes and differences be resolved through political and diplomatic means,” according to the statement. “Pakistan would continue to facilitate all efforts in that direction with a view to precluding conflict, defusing tensions and preserving peace for the benefit of the region and the world,” it added.
The prime minister apprised the Saudi crown prince of the latest situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, marked by continuous lockdown and other restrictions since August 5, 2019. This was accompanied by India’s belligerent rhetoric and actions on the Line of Control.
Imran thanked Riyadh for its traditional support to the Kashmir cause, including its active role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir. The two sides discussed ways of further advancing the Kashmir cause through the OIC and other means.
The Saudi side offered all possible support in the development of the tourism sector in Pakistan. In this context, it was agreed that the Saudi team would undertake a visit to Pakistan soon.
The prime minister extended warm felicitations on Saudi Arabia’s assumption of the G20 Presidency. This is a reflection of the Saudi leadership’s role and stature in the international community, he said, adding that Pakistan wished Saudi Arabia a highly successful G20 Presidency. Premier Imran reached Riyadh after a brief stopover in Madian, where he paid his respects at Roza-e-Rasool (Peace be Upon Him) and offered prayers there.
On his arrival in the Saudi capital, he was received by Governor of Riyadh Province Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz and Ambassador of Pakistan Raja Ali Ijaz at the Royal Terminal. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood also accompanied the PM.
Monitoring Desk adds: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has removed all misunderstanding between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and there has been no misunderstanding between the two countries at present.
Talking to a private news channel on Sunday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said such perceptions area being created by the elements who desire to disintegrate the Muslim world.
Responding to a question about the perception of Kuala Lumpur Summit being raised as a parallel platform or against the OIC, he said it is not being held for the first time, rather Mahathir Muhammad had already organized such four sessions as his private initiative before assuming the office of the Malaysian Prime Minister.
The Foreign Minister said that Mahathir Mohammed has sent his foreign minister to Saudi Arabia to extend a formal invitation for the summit considering it a very vital member of the Muslim world.
He said such perceptions are being created and fanned by the elements who have reservations over the Muslim countries joining heads to discuss their socioeconomic development and exploit their potential in the fields of skills and technology.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said having cordial ties with Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and being an OIC’s founding member, Pakistan is supposed to play its role to improve the strained ties between the Muslim countries.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit the Kingdom of Bahrain on December 16 (Monday) on the invitation of King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa where he is scheduled to attend the National Day of Bahrain as guest of honour.
The prime minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including members of the cabinet and senior government officials, PM office media wing in a press release on Sunday said.
This is prime minister Khan’s first visit to Bahrain since assuming office in August 2018. During the visit, he will have one-on-one meeting with King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa and will hold delegation-level talks with Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa.
The exchange of views would cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations and matters pertaining to regional and international issues. Bahrain’s highest civil award will also be conferred upon the prime minister.
“The Prime Minister’s visit to Bahrain will enable the two sides to explore ways and means to further deepen bilateral trade and investments ties. The visit is of special significance and will impart a strong impetus to both sides’ endeavours to forge a closer, multifaceted bilateral relationship”, the news release said.
“Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy close cordial ties based on commonalities of faith and culture marked by mutual trust and understanding. The bilateral relationship is broad-based and multifaceted, covering diverse fields including political, trade, commercial, defence, people-to-people contacts,” it said.
The frequent high-level exchanges are a hallmark of the relationship. Pakistan and Bahrain closely coordinate in multilateral fora including the UN, OIC and GCC.
The two countries have established institutional mechanisms, including Bilateral Political Consultations and Joint Ministerial Commission, to bolster bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. The two countries also enjoy close inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Over 100,000 Pakistani expatriate community which contributes to the
socio-economic development of Bahrain, acts as a strong human bridge between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, has said that the recent visit of PM Imran Khan to Riyadh will further strengthen strategic partnership of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
FirdousAshiqAwan, in her messages on a social media website, said that Riyadh has always supported Pakistan in a tough time. She welcomed the support of Saudi Arabia over the Kashmir issue.
She expressed hopes that PM Khan’s recent visit will further improve strategic partnership and take the bilateral ties to new heights besides empowering longstanding brotherly relations between both countries.
The special assistant said PM Khan apprised Saudi leadership regarding the latest situation of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. She also praised the decision to highlight Kashmir cause through the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other sources.
Awan also welcomed the Saudi leadership’s offer to provide assistance to Pakistan in the tourism sector where the country is emerging as an attractive destination around the world.