Report Sohail Rana: Visit of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to Pakistan
Pakistan – Saudi Arabia Relations Factsheet
• In times of difficulty and challenge, Saudi Arabia has always stood by Pakistan, and come forward with generous support. The two brotherly countries are each other’s starategic parteners in every sense of the word.
• Relations are grounded in long standing ploitical, civilizational, spiritual, commercial and economic affinities, in geographic proximity, and people to people linkage based on strong bonds of faith and culture.
• The people of Pakistan harbor an abiding attachment with Harmain Sharifain, the Saudi royal family, and the land of Saudi Arabia. The royal family of Saudi Arabia, in turn, has an immense soft corner for Pakistan and Pakistanis. It has been most benevolent and affectionate towards Pakistan.
• Pakistan continues to stand unequivocally by the side of Saudi Arabia, and in case of any violation of Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity or threat to Harmain Sharifain, will stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia and its people (from text of parliamentary Resoultion on Yamen).
• Pakistan and Saudi Arabia continue to extend each other valuable support at Multilateral forums including the UN and OIC.
• Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to accord diplomatic recognition to Pakistan.
• Pakistan and Saudi Arabia concluded a Treaty of Friendship as early as 1951, laying the foundations of an enduring friendship.
• Saudi Arabia came to Pakistan’s assistance during the 1965 & 1971 wars, following Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the ensuing refugee crisis, and after imposition of sanctions by the west, post nuclear tests in 1998.
• It was with full backing and support of Saudi Arabia that Pakistan hosted the Second OIC Summit in Lahore in 1974.
• Besides direct financial support, Arabia has funded numerous health. education, infrastructure and welfare projects. It extended full support to Paksitan in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake and 2010/2011 flash floods.
• Saudi largesse is evidenced by the naming in Pakistan, of a large number of projects after scions of Saudi Royal family, notably King Faisal. Shahra-e-Faisal in Karachi, the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad and Faisalabad, Pakistan third largest city, are all named after King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, reflecting abiding bonds of brotherhood.
• Following nuclear tests, Saudi Arabia extended Pakistan the facility of oil on deferred payment. Nearly 50,000 barrels of oil were provided daily for a year.
• Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first state visit to a foreign country as head of government was to Saudi Arabia, where he was accorded an unprecedented welcome (18- 19 September 2018); this was followed by another visit from 22 -23 October 2018 to participate in the second Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh.
• Since inception of the new government, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have maintained a high momentum of leadership level exchanges. The Saudi Ministers for Information and Energy have visited Pakistan; the Foreign Minister has met his Saudi counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session.
• At 2.6 million, nearly one-third of Pakistani expatriates (28%) live in Saudi Arabia which is home to the largest Pakistani community abroad anywhere in the world.
• Saudi Arabia is also the largest source of remittances to Pakistan; In 2017-18, Pakistanis based in Saudi Arabia remitted US$ 4.8 billion back home; accounting for 29% of total remittance receipts.
• Saudi Arabia remains an important source for our energy security.
• Twenty five Saudi companies have operations in Pakistan, while 350 Pakistani investors are registered with Saudi General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Current Saudi Support
• At the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Saudi Arabia has deposited US$ 3 billion in the State Bank of Pakistan. This deposit is meant to extend balance of payments support to Pakistan.
• Saudi Arabia has also graciously agreed to provide one year deferred payment facility or import of oil upto US$ 3 billion. This arrangement will be in place for 3 years, and will be reviewed thereafter. Both sides are finalizing the modalities.
• Decision in principle to reduce visa fee for Pakistani expat workers by 85%.
• Negotiations are in final stages on setting up by Saudi Arabia, of an oil refinery in Gwadar, entailing investment of up to $ 10 billion. An agreement in this regard is expected to be concluded shortly.
• Saudi Arabia has also evinced keen interest in investment in Pakistan’s mineral sector and acquisition of RLNG power plants either directly or through open competitive bidding.
• Saudi public and private sectors have also evinced interest in investing in tourism, petroleum and petrochemicals, fertilizers, food and agriculture and the financial sectors.
Bilateral Defence cooperation
As per 1982 MOU Pakistan will provide training and defence assistance to KSA.
Presently 1680 Pakistan Army troops are in KSA providing training assistance. 1460 troops are earmarked for the same purpose and awaiting approval from KSA. 77 KSA military cadets are undergoing training at Pakistan Military Academy Kakul.