ISLAMABAD: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan undertook a daylong visit to Islamabad on Thursday and held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan, focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues. UAE
Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, who is also deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said the UAE and Pakistan enjoyed strategic partnership and extended his country’s support for peace and stability in South Asia and peaceful resolution of issues.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed becomes the first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan in 2020. According to Sheikh Mohammed’s tweet, he met Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed “regional and international issues of mutual interest as well as ways to enhance bilateral ties”.
At the conclusion of the visit, according to the UAE state news agency, WAM, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed instructed the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to allocate $200 million to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) projects in Pakistan.
The visit by the crown prince was seen as significant against the backdrop of recent developments, particularly the Kuala Lumpur summit. Both Saudi Arabia and UAE expressed reservations over the summit since they viewed the initiative as an attempt to create a new Islamic bloc.
Pakistan pulled out of the summit at the last minute in order to, what it insisted, maintain neutrality in the Muslim world. Soon after the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan visited Islamabad to renew Riyadh’s commitment to the long term and strategic partnership with Pakistan.
Both Saudi Arabia and UAE have longstanding ties with Pakistan. The Arab countries were instrumental in helping Pakistan on many occasions to deal with the country’s economic problems as well as other strategic issues.
Saudi Arabia and UAE were the first countries extending financial bailout package to the PTI government to deal with the balance of payment crises. Saudi Arabia and UAE also host around 3.7 million Pakistanis, who send around $9 billion in remittances annually.
Knowing the importance of the bilateral ties with the UAE, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a special gesture went to the Noor Khan Airbase to receive the Abu Dhabi crown prince. He also drove the Arab dignitary to the Prime Minister House.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the crown prince underlined “the strategic importance of UAE-Pakistan relations” and extended cordial greetings for the brotherly people of Pakistan and good wishes for their accelerated development in the year 2020 and beyond.
Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed also underlined the UAE’s support for peace and stability in South Asia and peaceful resolution of issues. He also appreciated Pakistan’s important role in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“The visit of His Highness the Crown Prince was the first by a foreign dignitary to Pakistan in 2020, and reflective of the special relations between Pakistan and UAE, which continue to grow deeper with the passage of time. The two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to take these relations to a new level,” an official handout said.
Prime Minister Imran and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed held wide-ranging talks, focusing on bilateral, regional and international issues. The discussions continued over the luncheon, hosted by the prime minister in honour of the crown prince and his accompanying entourage.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction at the frequent exchange of high-level visits between Pakistan and the UAE and the steady development of cordial ties between the two fraternal countries.
Underlining the strategic importance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship, the prime minister stressed the imperative of deeper economic engagement. Imran highlighted the economic turnaround in Pakistan and the growing opportunities for foreign investment as well as fruitful trade and commercial engagement with key partner countries.
Welcoming the UAE’s interest in investing in myriad sectors in Pakistan, Imran assured maximum facilitation for UAE investments. Among others, the possibilities in the energy and tourism sectors were highlighted. Closer collaboration in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector was also underlined.
Imran highlighted the positive contributions of more than 1.6 million expatriate Pakistani community, which considered the UAE as their second home. He also thanked the UAE leadership and its people for their commitment to Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
The prime minister apprised the crown prince of India’s inhuman lockdown in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, continuing for over 150 days. He also highlighted India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and their negative consequences.
The prime minister underscored the need for the world community to take urgent steps to address India’s state oppression in occupied Kashmir, immediate removal of the lockdown and other restrictions, avoidance of escalation of tensions on the Line of Control (LoC), and the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
The OIC’s role in the advancement of the Islamic Ummah’s causes was also discussed. Imran apprised Sheikh Mohamed of Pakistan’s efforts and positive contribution to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. He underlined that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan and the region.
(With input from Reuters.)
(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on January 3rd, 2020)