Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s first official overseas visit to Saudi Arabia has many experts contemplating the benefits of the meeting. Saudi Arabia traditionally has been an ally to Pakistan and maintaining such cordial ties is in the best interest of the government, especially with the aim of trying to fix Pakistan’s economic challenges. There is definitely an interest shown by the Saudi government in working with the new premiere. This can be assessed from the kind of welcome he was offered in the country. Such an effort will be reciprocated by strengthening the bilateral ties of the countries.

On the economic front, there are many developments. The first is the official offer to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia to join the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Foreign investment in the project will bring stability along with foreign reserves that the country needs at this point in time. This is a decision beneficial for both countries; however, one aspect which needs to be considered is the timeline during which the agreement bears fruit for all the parties involved. Pakistan in terms of developmental projects is taking visionary steps but along with foreign partnerships, the domestic market also needs to be incorporated so that local businessmen do not lose out on the profits.

Many were also expecting a direction in terms of Pakistan not inclined towards getting an IMF bailout for the current economic situation. Not much has been said in this regard and that is particularly what is most important for the Pakistani economy at this moment. At the same time, another major concern is Pakistan’s role in the Yemen crisis. Pakistan has time and again urged the parties involved to end the conflict because many innocent lives are being lost in the process; however, while Pakistan has maintained the stance of neutrality and has played the role of a moderator, Pakistan is also ready to stand by Saudi Arabia in its fight against terrorism.

The official visit reinforces the need for bilateral ties, however, there is further work required to devise a framework for the diplomatic ties. While there have been several positive developments coming out of this meeting, the success of the ostensible purpose of the visit – shore up economic partnerships and possible aid – remains shrouded in uncertainty. Similarly, Pakistan also needs to play the role of the moderator to end a war that is taking millions of lives. While positive comments were made in the meeting, there is no indication what path the government plans to take.