ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has convinced Saudi Arabia to invest in Pakistan to financially engage the Kingdom in the cash-starved country on a permanent basis, officials said on Tuesday.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that in addition to the regular economic packages, Saudi Arabia was requested to invest in Pakistan as part of the government’s commitment of ‘trade not aid’.

“At this time, we are in need of money, but this phase is temporary. We need to move on. After a few months, we are hoping to get out of the economic crisis. Investments by friendly countries will permanently engage them in Pakistan,” said one official.

Another official said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was bringing huge investments to Pakistan in addition to the economic package already announced by Riyadh.

“Close to $20 billion investment is expected by Saudi Arabia . This will definitely boost our economy. We want Saudi Arabia and others to enhance their business presence (in Pakistan),” the official said.

Reports said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had agreed to get oil on loan. The Kingdom will provide oil worth $3 billion to Pakistan for three years.

Meetings will be held with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to hand over two power plants based on Liquefied Natural Gas to Saudi Arabia , with an expected investment of $2 billion. Saudi Arabia is also interested to invest $6 billion in Gwadar oil refinery.

The refinery and oil complex in the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea is the ultimate destination for the massive multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which lies not far from the Indo-Iranian port of Chabahar.

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s security, media and medical teams are already in Islamabad ahead of his two-day visit to Pakistan, expected on February 16.

Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is likely to stay at the Prime Minister’s House, but two of the top hotels in Islamabad have been booked fully for members of his staff while two others have been partially booked. This will be Prince Mohammed’s first-ever visit to Pakistan as the crown prince.

Gen Raheel Sharif, former Pakistan army chief – now Commander-In-Chief of Islamic Alliance against Terrorism led by Saudi Arabia – is also in Pakistan. He has already met Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa among others.

The meetings discussed matters pertaining to the regional and international security, and effective measures taken by the coalition for countering terrorism.

Last month, Pakistan received third tranche of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia .

The amount was received under an agreement signed on January 22, 2019 by Governor SBP Tariq Bajwa and Director General of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

Saudi Arabia also transferred $3 billion to Pakistan and promised oil on deferred payment and the UAE has also announced a big package but China is yet to come up with any practical package.

An IMF team had visited Pakistan in December and held talks with the Pakistani officials - negotiating the programme, likely to cover a period of three years.

Prime Minister Imran Khan met IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Dubai last week indicating that a new IMF program was ion the anvil. Finance Minister Asad Umar had earlier claimed the IMF package will only be accepted if it did not hit the poor Pakistanis.

The Institute of International Finance in its last report claimed a potential IMF programme for Pakistan could be valued at $15 billion. Finance Minister Asad Umar, originally said the IMF would be asked for a $12 billion package while another $5 billion would be sought from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

But with the Saudi and UAE support worth billions of dollars, the IMF loan may be reduced. PM Khan said the government had focused on encouraging investment, increasing exports, incentivizing overseas Pakistanis for sending remittances, and checking money-laundering.

Pakistan will also receive $1.5 billion in trade finance from the Jeddah-based financing arm of the Islamic Development Bank, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation. Approximately 65 percent of the purported investments by Saudi Arabia to be announced during Mohammed Bin Salman’s visit are expected in Karachi.