After an underwhelming 100 days, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) has perhaps achieved its first tangible success. It seems Imran Khan’s charm offensive at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference in Riyadh has worked as Saudi Arabia has granted a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy. The package includes $3bn balance of payments support and another $3bn in deferred payments on oil imports.

The deposit comes in the backdrop of dark circumstances- the bailout comes at a time when Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations record is in international scrutiny due to the controversial death of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul. It can be argued that this bailout package by Saudi Arabia is due to Pakistan maintaining diplomatic silence on the issue at a time when there is palpitating pressure mounted on KSA by the world for accountability of Khashoggi’s death. While Pakistan has been criticised by some for its silence, Pakistan, a nation with a currently struggling economy and a hostile neighbor, has to play the game of foreign policy to maintain its allies. This bailout package gives breathing space to a Finance Ministry to undertake economic reform, and will likely reduce the size of any bailout Pakistan receives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, let us celebrate this victory cautiously. The details of the Bailout have not been released yet- it is uncertain yet if the bailout is in terms of a loan on commercial terms- which would be detrimental- or if there are undesirable strings attached with the Saudi grant. Whatever the case, the bailout just buys some immediate relief for the economy and stronger terms for the IMF- the real formidable task is to restructure the economy to lay off Pakistan’s dependence on such financial packages. A bailout package is not an endorsement of a country’s economy, quite the opposite actually. The government still needs to successfully invite investment - such as the Gawadar Oil refinery – and it needs to yield results out of these investment so that repayment of these packages are possible.

With the success of this trip to Saudi Arabia in mind, it would be wise to employ the same tactics for Pakistan’s upcoming foreign trip- and closest ally- China. If something similar can be pulled off after visiting China, which is scheduled soon, then our position will be solidified further. Perhaps the government’s hints towards CPEC negotiation are an indication of what we can expect.