Pakistan, Qatar convert ties into strategic partnership

Courtesy:- Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
Wednesday, February 08, 2012

DOHA: Pakistan and Qatar have decided to convert their ties into a strategic relationship as Qatari Ruler Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani said the ongoing visit of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to Qatar had opened a new chapter in the relationship of the two brotherly countries and new vistas of cooperation. “Qatar is willing to cooperate with Pakistan in all fields,î he said Tuesday. 

Expressing unswerving solidarity with Pakistan in various spheres of life during his more than an hour meeting with Prime Minister Gilani here at the chief executive office (Amiri Diwan) on Tuesday, he termed the occasion a historic and fresh start after a gap of nine long years. The meeting took place in an extremely cordial atmosphere where all issues pertaining to international, regional and bilateral importance came under discussion. Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar who left for Russia immediately after the meeting also took part in the meeting while PMís advisor on petroleum and natural resources Dr Asim Hussain, Federal Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, leader of the Tribal Parliamentarians Haji Muneer Khan Orakzai and Pakistan-Qatar Business Association representative Ahmad Khali assisted the prime minister in the meeting. 

The Qatari ruler said that his country was keen to maintain a strategic relationship with Pakistan regardless of the tactical calculation of profits and losses. The two sides expressed satisfaction over several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed between the two countries on Monday, mainly on the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), security cooperation, customs and hydroelectric power development.

The Qatari Emir expressed willingness to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis and hoped that the mechanism of early supply of LNG consignment would be done amicably and as soon as possible. 

PM Gilani said Pakistan gave great importance to its relations with Qatar and wanted to explore new avenues of cooperation. On the Afghanistan issue, the prime minister said Pakistan was in favour of a peaceful outcome and added that any initiative on Afghanistan must not affect Pakistan. He proposed addressing the issues of unemployment and illiteracy in Afghanistan that would help control extremism and terrorism in the long run. He insisted that the solution to the Afghan problem must be left with its people to decide. He said Pakistan had paid a huge price in the war against terrorism. 

The Emir assured Gilani that the interests of Pakistan would never be compromised in any case. PM Gilani took up the matter of absorption of Pakistani manpower in various sectors of Qatar. He suggested that the workforce from the seven agencies of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to Qatar would help provide jobs to the locals and restrain their involvement in militant activities. He said Pakistan on the demand of Qatar would send professionals trained by Ministry for Technical Education for the preparatory projects of FIFA 2022 to be held in Doha. 

The PM sought the support of Qatar in the finalisation of Free Trade Agreement with the countries of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 

PM Gilani invited Qatar’s Emir to attend the celebrations of Pakistan Day on March 23 as chief guest. The Emir said Qatar could consider the option of importing Basmati rice from Pakistan. The Qatar’s ruler inquired about the health of President Asif Ali Zardari. The meeting was scheduled for half an hour but lasted for more than an hour. 

Later Prime Minister Gilani invited Qatar’s businessmen to invest in Pakistan in diverse areas and said the country offered an attractive destination for investment in the fields of energy, infrastructure, hydrocarbon, defence and defence production. 

In a meeting with the Chairman of Qatar Business Association, PM Gilani said the Doha Conference being held to attract Qatari investment to Pakistan would be a determined endeavour to persuade potential investors. He said that Pakistan offered excellent and viable opportunities for businesses on durable basis.

Gilani expressed satisfaction over the offer by the Qatar government to hold exhibitions Chairman Qatar Business Council Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, the biggest investor of the country who is on close terms with the royal family, said Qatri investors would be happy to invest in Pakistan in various sectors. He said it would also serve the cause of the brotherly people of Pakistan. 

On the bidding for 3-G technology in Pakistan, the Chairman Qatar Business Association (QBA) said the forum had studied the proposal and would encourage investors in this regard. Later, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Pakistan-Qatar Business Council and Qatar Business Association on cooperation in trade in various fields. Prime Minister Gilani witnessed the signing ceremony as Chairman QBA Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa and President of Pakistan-Qatar Business Council Ahmed Aqeel inked the document.

AFP adds: The oil-rich Gulf state has played a critical role in promoting Afghan peace talks and provided a venue for preliminary contacts between the Taliban and US officials. Pakistan, which last week sought to reach out to Afghanistan following a period of particularly bad relations over violence plaguing both countries, insists that any process to end the 10-year war be Afghan-led.

A senior Pakistani official has told AFP that the prime minister’s talks will “certainly” cover issues related to Afghan reconciliation.

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