The Emir Visit
The visit of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani can be seen as a reciprocation of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s earlier visit to Qatar in January this year. The visit of the Emir is the success of PM Khan’s efforts to enhance Pakistan’s standing in the comity of the nations.
Pakistan, under the leadership of Imran Khan, believes that improving Islamabad’s foreign relations with other nations is crucial for economic stability. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that two of the three memoranda of understandings (MoUs) signed between the two sides were on the enhancement of trade, tourism and business.
Nevertheless, it is not that Islamabad is showing a tilt towards Doha. The geo-strategic and political and the regional situation have made both sides important to each other. Considering the altercations between Qatar and other Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, Doha does not want Pakistan to drift towards Riyadh and her allies. Thus it becomes easy to contextualise the multi-billion dollar investment that Imran Khan says Qatar is keen to invest in Pakistan.
So far it seems, that Islamabad wants to treat both Qatar and Saudi Arabia equally as the Qatari Emir also received Pakistan’s highest civilian award – Nishan-e-Pakistan – that the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman was conferred with during his visit to Pakistan in February 2019.
Recently, Pakistan has witnessed the signing of multi-billion dollar investment deals with Saudi Arabia and now MoUs on trade and investment and cooperation on financial intelligence and tourism with Qatar. One can see these positive developments as natural outcomes of Pakistan becoming a global trade hub once China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) becomes fully operational.
Also, it is a golden opportunity for the incumbent government to materialise all these deals with wealthy Gulf sheikhdoms in a manner that can take Pakistan out of the economic crisis. And while doing so, the state needs to remain neutral in any possible conflict between countries having friendly relations with Islamabad.