ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan is a manifestation of strength of the relationship between the two countries and it will go a long way in laying the foundation for strategic and economic relations between the two nations.

“The generous deposit of $3 billion and supply of oil on deferred payment is reflective of the desire of the Kingdom to see a strong, vibrant and prosperous Pakistan,” he said in an interview published in the Saudi Gazette on Sunday.

The prime minister said as the longstanding, firm and close relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia extended to all spheres; political, economic and diplomatic, the Crown Prince’s visit would strengthen the diplomatic support of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and would reinforce relations. He was confident that economic relations between the two countries would be expanded by identifying new avenues of investment and joint ventures. “It would further our mutual trust and strong historical relations,” he said.

The prime minister said during the visit the Crown Prince would interact with key government officials of Pakistan and would get to know Pakistan and its government better. “Pakistan is eagerly looking forward to this historic visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan,” he said.

To a question, the prime minister said during the visit all aspects of bilateral, regional and global issues; bilateral cooperation in economic, diplomatic and political arenas and collaboration in regional peace and stability, especially in the Muslim world, would come under discussion. “Pakistan is a highly attractive investment destination for Saudi Arabia. So the possibilities of Saudi investment in sectors like energy, petroleum, agriculture and infrastructure development will come under discussion,” he said.

In the diplomatic sphere, the prime minister said the two nations could join hands to effectively mobilise the international community for amicable resolution of festering disputes such as Kashmir and Palestine. “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have similar stance on regional and global security and this visit will be an opportunity to discuss key regional and global security issues,” he said, adding the two brotherly countries could use their energies and influences to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia could use the OIC to strengthen the Muslim world and promote cooperation among the Muslim countries. Also, he said he and the Crown Prince shared the same vision on eradication of corruption.

To a question, Khan said multiple contracts were expected to be signed during the Crown Prince’s visit. “The main highlight of the visit will be the signing of the MoU in respect of the oil refinery, which is Saudi Arabia’s largest investment in Pakistan’s history,” he said. He said: “Investment in Gwadar alone would be the most important contribution to making Pakistan self-reliant in this sector.” He said it would be ensured that Saudi investors’ investment does not face any procedural delays.

To a question about terrorism, the prime minister said terrorism was a big menace that had to be dealt with an iron hand. “Being the biggest victim of terrorism, Pakistan knows its ugliness and costs more than any other country in the world,” he said. He recalled that after withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, and the loss of interest by the US in the region, Pakistan was left to deal with that mess, and for the next decade, Pakistan was plagued by that menace. “We are determined not to become a partner in any proxy war anywhere in the world. Rather we will be a partner in peace. Islamabad believes that extremism in most parts of the world, which leads to terrorism, is brought about by many factors,” he said.

He said Saudi Arabia had enormously contributed to the uplift of its own people as well as other Muslim countries and that needed to be appreciated. The Islamic Military Alliance against terrorism or IMCTC was a pioneering initiative of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world to protect Muslim countries from growing security and terrorism threats, he added. “It is imperative that regional platforms like IMCTC work for the collective good of nations by countering evils of terrorism and instability that threaten the very social fabric of our societies. The Islamic Military Alliance works for the stability of its member countries by helping sustain the political stability of the region.

“The notion created by some that IMCTC is a coalition of vested interests against a particular country, region or sect, is a rustic mockery and far from any logic and reality.We hope this alliance will evolve into an alliance of all Muslim states to collectively fight the common menace of terrorism,” he added.