The royal delegation has left, the fanfare is wrapping up and the all-important agreements have been signed. By any metric chosen, the visit of the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince was an unmitigated success. Despite this government officials and economists will tell you that this was the easy part. Singed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) are exactly what they claim to be; a mutual agreement on how to proceed. The hard part – ironing out the kinks, fielding tenders, conducting feasibility studies, setting prices, and negotiating legally binding contracts – still remains.

The Crown Prince and the Prime Minister might have agreed to build a refinery in Gawadar, but we are still a long way off from the day that edifice rises out of the Makran coastline and receives its first barrel of oil.

To ensure that the fruits of our diplomatic labours do not go to waste, Pakistan has to work on implementing the agreements in the most prompt, professional and diligent manner. The investment into Pakistan will come to fruition in three phases over the next six years, and it requires constant attention from the government throughout.

It is therefore encouraging to see that the top level Saudi-Pakistan Joint Supreme Coordination Council (SPJSCC) and a Joint Working Group (JWG) has already been set up to further consolidate the agreements signed – with the former being led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the latter being led by Saudi Minister for Energy and Industry Khalid Al Falih and Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan. It is hoped that the government utilises these forums to the fullest of their potentials.

The way the state gave priority to China Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) saw it develop into the geostrategic asset it is today. The Saudi link is a logical extension of that plan, and an important diplomatic bond in its own right – it should be afforded the same diligence and prioritisation.