ISLAMABAD   -   Saudi Arabia is not against the growing ties between Pakistan and Qatar amid hints of reconciliation between the two Arab countries, officials said on Sunday.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Islamabad and Riyadh had been in contact and Saudi Arabia had not objected to the Pak-Qatar friendship.

“They believe as sovereign states, we have a right to have relations with other countries,” said one official who remains in contact with the Saudis.

Another official said ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar were already improving so Riyadh was not alarmed by the growing contacts between Islamabad and Doha.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdel-Rahman Al-Thani earlier said that his country was “ready to talk” with Saudi Arabia on the basis of reciprocal respect.

This came in response to a tweet by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubier who said Qatar had to change its behaviour if it wanted to talk with Saudi Arabia .

Al-Thani replied on Twitter: “We welcome talks based on respect, but if the issue is based on dictations, we should remain far from each other.”

The Saudi-Qatari relations have been strained since the imposition of a blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its key allies the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain in 2017.

Over the weekend, Qatari Emir Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had arrived in Pakistan to a warm reception by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Sheikh Al Thani was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising key ministers and senior officials. During his stay, he held talks with PM Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi. The Qatari leader met PM Khan on the first day of his visit besides a number of other engagements.

The President also conferred highest civil award Nishan-e-Pakistan on Emir of Qatar Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a special investiture ceremony.

During his visit, the two sides discussed ways and means of building a robust and mutually beneficial economic partnership.

 

 

Pakistan and Qatar also signed Memorandums of Understanding and agreements for enhanced bilateral cooperation in different areas. The Qatari leader left yesterday after completing the two-day trip. It was the second visit of Qatari Emir to Pakistan after assuming power in 2013.

Prior to his departure, he held a meeting with President Dr Arif Alvi yesterday. Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani evinced keen interest in enhanced collaboration in energy sector and import of food items from Pakistan.

The Emir also offered assistance in building Pakistan’s tourism potential through more Qatari investments and technical support in the hospitality industry.

Expressing satisfaction at the pace of recruitment of manpower from Pakistan, the Emir underlined Qatar’s desire to import additional workers and trained security personnel from Pakistan.

Taking note of the progress the achieved in Afghan peace talks, the two leaders agreed to continue working closely for regional peace and stability.

Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani thanked leadership of Pakistan for the gracious invitation and hospitality extended to him and his entourage. He also acknowledged the sacrifices made by Pakistan in fight against terrorism.

The President complimented the Emir for his astute leadership, which enabled Qatar to make major strides in energy, tourism, aviation and construction sectors. He admired Qatar’s efforts to promote world sports.

Taking note of the 70 percent increase in Pakistan’s exports to Qatar following direct linkage between Karachi and Hamad Ports, the President underlined the importance of increased volume of bilateral trade and enhancing and diversifying Pakistan’s exports to Qatar. He also focused on potential for enhanced Qatari investments in diverse fields and the prospects of further employment of Pakistani workers in Qatar.

In the regional context, the President lauded Qatar’s role in promoting efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, which is a notable contribution to regional peace.

After his meeting with the Qatari counterpart, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Qatar was playing an important role in overcoming the energy crisis in Pakistan.

The FM said more than 125000 Pakistanis living in Qatar were playing an important role in development of Qatar. He said that these expatriates are playing the role of a bridge between the two countries.

The trade volume between the two countries has crossed 2.5 billion dollar mark. Qureshi expressed the hope that visit of Qatari Emir will open new vistas of trade between the two countries and investment will increase.

Qatar Foreign Minister expressed interest on behalf of his country to invest in various sectors in Pakistan.

He said his country was interested in importing more than one hundred thousand people from Pakistan for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.