ISLAMABAD - Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s heir to the throne Mohammed Bin Salman will visit Pakistan in the coming weeks to possibly sort out the nuclear armed country’s economic crises.

Speaking at a news conference after the federal cabinet meeting – chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan here – Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Crown Princes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia will visit Pakistan in January and February respectively.

The minister said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken to Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over the telephone. The two leaders will visit Pakistan soon.”

Amid economic crisis, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approached China, Malaysia, UAE, and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance to overcome the alarming economic crisis in Pakistan and to skip the tough conditionalities of the International Monetary Fund.

While Saudi Arabia has sent a couple of billion dollars to Pakistan and promised oil on deferred payment, UAE and China have yet to come up with any practical package.

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

The talks remained inconclusive and there will be another round next month. Finance Minister Asad Umar said the IMF package will only be accepted if it did not hit the poor Pakistanis.

The Institute of International Finance in its latest report said a potential IMF programme for Pakistan could be valued at $15 billion. The IIF expected an agreement on a three-year IMF programme of $15 billion by end of this year. 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 support worth billions of dollars, the IMF loan may be reduced. Pakistan is also seeking financial packages from the friendly countries to reduce the IMF dependency.

PM Khan said the government had focused on encouraging investment, increasing exports, incentivising overseas Pakistanis for sending remittances, and checking money laundering.

Fawad Chaudhry said the princes from the friendly Arab countries will meet the Pakistani leadership. “The Prime Minister believes the country cannot run its economy by constantly taking loans,” added the minister.

The federal cabinet expressed concern over the imposition of President’s rule in the Occupied Kashmir after a wave of violence killed around a dozen people in the Pulwama district, said the minister.

Fawad said the cabinet had directed the ministries to continue austerity measures and cut expenditures by 10 percent as checking the government expenditure was crucial to overcome fiscal deficit.

Fawad said a presentation was given to the prime minister on economic situation of the country, who has advised all the ministers to limit their foreign visits.

The cabinet also directed the Interior Ministry to immediately remove names of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement lawmakers Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir from the Exit Control List.

The cabinet members focused upon 31-point agenda. Finance Minister Asad Umar briefed the participants over reduction in government spending.

The meeting also discussed various important agenda items including Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity, refugees’ repatriation, tribal areas reforms and signing of Memorandum of Understanding and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The cabinet endorsed the decisions of the last meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee.

Fawad Chaudhry said that prices of medicines were also discussed in the cabinet meeting. He said the master plans of major cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces will be prepared as well as direction has been made to prepare master plan for Islamabad.

He said the government will witness the rights of encroachment affectees. He said the cabinet had also given the approval of licenses for some new airlines.

The minister said: “We want to ease the Visa facilities for foreign journalists and creating more facilities for the tourists visiting the Pakistan.”

Fawad said the opposition parties were upset as the government was committed to root out corruption.

Fawad said that the cabinet decided that National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and Civil Aviation Authority were holding separate inquires into escalation of new Islamabad Airport’s cost and the cabinet directed that all those inquiries should be merged and a report be presented to the cabinet.

 

He said the prime minister issued directives that not a single penny cut would be imposed on the funds allocated for Federally Administered Tribal Areas as per agreement among the political parties 3 percent of the GDP was to be allocated for FATA.

Fawad regretted that the Sindh government of the Pakistan People’s Party, which claimed to be champion of the rights of small provinces, was not cooperating on the issue.

He said that the cabinet discussed revision of master plan of Islamabad and decided that master plans of major cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces would also be prepared.

 

Saudi, UAE crown princes to visit Pakistan