ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistan holds Qatar in very high esteem and wishes to enhance cooperation in all fields, particularly energy, trade, investment, defence and manpower.

He said this while talking to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the PM House on Monday. The Qatari emir arrived in Islamabad on a two-day official visit to Pakistan on the invitation of the prime minister.

The prime minister himself received the emir and members of his delegation at the Islamabad airport where he was accorded a warm welcome, including a 21-gun salute and guard of honour.

Talking to him, the premier said Pakistan and Qatar were enjoying close and brotherly relations. He lauded the personal contribution of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in transforming Qatar into one of the most attractive destinations of the world. “Qatar’s progress is remarkable, enviable and a matter of pride for us as a brotherly country,” he said.

“I was waiting for your highness’ visit to Pakistan just like a brother waits for a brother,” he remarked. He said, “Pakistan wants Qatari investment in all areas. Our bilateral trade of less than US$ 300 million per annum is much below its potential.”  The prime minister said Qatar was home to more than 100,000 Pakistanis whose remittances were making a valuable contribution to the socio-economic development of Pakistan. “We would appreciate if Pakistani manpower in Qatar is substantially enhanced,” he said.

The Qatari side expressed interest in enhancing the number of Pakistanis working in Qatar for various development projects they plan to undertake for hosting FIFA 2022 World Cup.

Both the sides agreed to take measures to enhance trade and strengthen cooperation in the field of defence and manpower. The prime minister said this visit of the emir of Qatar would provide fresh impetus to bilateral relations between the two countries. The emir said, “Qatar attaches great importance to its relations with Pakistan. It is a very important country not only for Qatar but also for the region.”

He expressed the confidence that his visit would strengthen bilateral cooperation. He said Qatar would also positively look into opportunities available in Pakistan for investment in various fields, including energy.

The two sides also agreed to enhance exchange of visits at various levels to promote bilateral relations and implement the decisions taken by the two leaders.

The emir was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including the cabinet ministers, the Qatar Airways chairman and senior government officials.

During the delegation level talks, both the sides discussed ways to further enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields, including energy, investment, trade, defence and manpower. Regional and global issues of mutual interest also came under discussion.

The Qatar delegation comprised Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Khaled bin Mohamed Al-Attiya, Energy and Industry Minister Dr Mohammed Saleh Al-Sada; Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, Minister for Economy and Trade Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mohammed Al-Tahni, Chief Emiri Dewan Sheikh Khaled bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Secretary to Emir for Political Affairs Ali bin Fahd Al-Hajri, Qatar Airways CEO Akber Al-Baker, Studies and Research Director Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Hajri and Qatari Ambassador Saqr bin Mubarak Al-Mansouri.

Those who attended the delegation-level talks from Pakistan side included Defence and Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Adviser to PM Sartaj Aziz on National Security, Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to PM Capt (r) Shujaat Azim,, the foreign secretary and Pakistan’s ambassador to Qatar.

The two sides signed three agreements to further deepen mutually beneficial cooperation existing between the two countries in various fields. These were agreement for cooperation in the field of culture, signed by Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Dr Khaled bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, memorandum of understanding in the field of youth and sports, signed by Federal Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Qatari Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Khaled bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, and first executive programme for cooperation in the fields of education, higher education and scientific research for cultural, scientific, technical, educational and media cooperation, signed by Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Qatar’s Minister Dr Khaled bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah.

Later, the prime minister hosted a banquet in honour of the emir which was attended by the cabinet ministers, services chiefs, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Leader of Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, Leader of House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, members of the Qatari delegation and senior government officials.

Later, the Qatari emir held a meeting with President Mamnoon Hussain at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Both the leaders resolved to develop long-lasting partnership by deepening their cooperation in various fields, including trade, energy and investment.

The President stated that Pakistan would welcome investment by Qatar in its ongoing and new energy and infrastructure projects, expressing the hope that Qatar would co-finance Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project.

The President expressed the hope that Qatar would support early conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Mamnoon stated Pakistan wanted to increase defence cooperation with Qatar.