We believe there is great potential here and we want to be part of Pakistan’s growth, said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. This is investment, not charity, he clarified.
Speaking alongside his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Pak Saudi Business conference in Islamabad, Al-Jubeir said if the Saudis didn’t believe this was investment and therefore beneficial for both sides, they wouldn’t be here.
We have had several very productive meetings, he said, adding that the MoUs signed and agreements inked are just the beginning. “We are looking for ways to enhance contact between the business communities in both countries and institutionalise the relationship between the two countries across the board,” he said.
The Saudi foreign minister said both countries are facing many challenges but believed that they could be overcome through mutual cooperation.
Discussing the effect the $20 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan will have on the people, Qureshi said it will help the Pakistani diaspora and create jobs in both countries. It will create new opportunities and more room for Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia, he said.
We have been hosting Pakistanis for virtually 70 years, said Al-Jubeir, adding that they have contributed to the country’s development. Saudi Arabia in turn has sent many students to study here, at your medical universities, your colleges and your military academies, he said.
“There are five million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia who are law abiding, who contribute to our development and who are most welcome in our country,” said the foreign minister. He agreed that Saudi investment will generate more opportunities for Pakistanis, both in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia.
Our relationship runs very deep on a people to people level and we continue to work on it to make sure it continues to do so, said Al-Jubeir.
Discussing the February 13 attack in Iran that left 27 guards dead and another 13 injured, for which Iran has assigned responsibility to Pakistan, Qureshi said he spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif yesterday (Sunday) and assured him that “Pakistan was very upset about the tragic incident”. As a policy, we never condone such activities and always condemn them, he said.
“Iran is our neighbor and we wouldn’t want to cause problems for them,” he said. “We respect their sovereignty and territories and they, I believe, respect ours. If there are issues we can discuss them,” he said, calling on Iran to share evidence if it has any in the case.
We have cooperated with each other in the past to overcome situations like this and will continue to do so, said the foreign minister.
“It’s very strange to come from the foreign minister of the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism to accuse others of engaging in terrorist activities in Iran. Very, very strange,” said Al-Jubeir. He went on to say that Iran has been a chief sponsor of terrorism for years and has been implicated in multiple terrorist attacks and interfering in the affairs in other countries.
“Saudi Arabia is a victim of terrorism and has been vigilant and unmerciful in going after terrorists and those who condone and finance them,” he said. He expressed the country’s wish to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from the face of the planet.
He concluded that Iran was going through several problems, including criticism from its own people, and it was trying to deflect by blaming others for its own issues.