Saudi Arabia is third partner in CPEC project, confirms Pakistan’s information minister

Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (left), and Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Oct. 02, 2018. (PID Photo)
Updated 03 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia is third partner in CPEC project, confirms Pakistan’s information minister

  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reached consensus over setting up oil refinery in Gwadar with a clear line of direction, petroleum minister says
  • Conflicting statements on vital areas are a great cause of concern, says expert

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is the third partner in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia is definitely our investment partner,” Chaudhry told Arab News. 

Clarifying the statement issued by Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar on Tuesday, which  gave the impression that no third country was being brought under the framework of CPEC, Chaudhry said: “The question was, will Saudi Arabia attend our joint ministerial meetings and he (Khusro Bakhtiar) said they will not attend.”

“Of course I stand by my statement,” Chaudhry reiterated in response to a question about his recent statement on the inclusion of Saudi Arabia as a third partner in the CPEC project.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bakhtiar said: “Saudi Arabia is not to become a collateral strategic partner in the CPEC. The impression is not true. The third country participation in the CPEC is not limited to Saudi Arabia but other countries can also become investment partners in CPEC.” 

The statement about uncertainty over Saudi stakes in CPEC created confusion, especially in the country's stock market, where the benchmark KSE 100 Index shed 240 points on Wednesday. 

“Dismal data on oil sales for July-September 2018, uncertainty over Saudi stakes in CPEC projects, surging core inflation and SBP policy rates and uncertainty over rupee-dollar parity played a catalyst role in a bearish close,” Ahsan Mehanti, a senior stock market analyst, told Arab News.

Dr. Ikram Ul Haq, an expert on economic and legal matters, said: “Such conflicting statements on vital areas are a great cause of concern. It shows a lack of coordination and immaturity on the part of ministers of the PTI government.”

The conflicting statements were issued at a time when a delegation from Saudi Arabia is visiting Pakistan to explore investment opportunities in the country following the first foreign visit by the country’s elected prime minister, Imran Khan, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

According to the Minister of Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, the delegation was interested in the oil and gas sector, power sector and renewable energy projects.

Setting up the oil refinery in the port city of Gwadar remained at the core of the talks between officials of both the countries. “Both sides have agreed to set up an oil refinery in Gwadar and the line of direction has been determined in this regard,” Pakistan’s Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told media in Islamabad on Wednesday. The agreement would be presented at the meeting of the federal cabinet on Thursday, he said.

Meanwhile, responding to queries in the Senate, Finance Minister Asad Umar categorically said that Pakistan and China are the “sole strategic partners” in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

He said that it was mutually agreed during the recent visit of the Chinese foreign minister that “any country including Saudi Arabia interested in making an investment in an individual project under the CPEC would be welcomed.”


Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

Updated 21 March 2019
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Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

  • Pakistan in talks with the UAE for help in “satellite manufacturing and relevant applications”
  • Signed last year an agreement with China to send its first mission into space by 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is exploring options to collaborate with the United Arab Emirates for its nascent space program, a senior official at Pakistan’s bureaucratic space agency said on Thursday, in joint ventures that could potentially boost the country’s socioeconomic development and national security.

Last year, Pakistan announced that it had signed an agreement with China to send the country’s first mission into space by 2022. 

“The UAE is one of our best friends in the Muslim world and collaboration in space-related activities will help both the Emirates and Pakistan,” Hassam Muhammad Khan, spokesman for the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), told Arab News.

He said that space technology required “huge funds and special skills” and thus Pakistan was in talks with the UAE “in satellite manufacturing and relevant applications.” 

Khan said Pakistan was a strong believer in the peaceful use of outer space and wanted to use technology only for socioeconomic development and national security. 

“The UAE has its own strengths in space technology and we want to benefit from them,” he added.

Pakistan currently has four remote-sensing and communications satellites in total – two ground stations and two in orbit. In July last year, Pakistan launched two satellites with the help of China, enhancing its ability to predict and ascertain levels of precipitation, and runoff water, for a given area in the country.

Dr. Qamar ul Islam, the head of the Department of Space Science at the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, said Pakistan lacked satellite launch facilities and capabilities and thus had “to seek assistance of friendly countries.”

“The real issues Pakistan faces at the moment are lack of funding, but our collaboration with the UAE in the space sector can really prove beneficial for both countries,” he told Arab News. “It has become crucial for Pakistan to have a good presence in outer space to protect its sovereignty and ensure security.”

Pakistan participated in this year’s Global Space Congress held in Abu Dhabi on March 19 for the first time and shared the details about their satellite related projects with the audience. SUPARCO was representing Pakistan in this event in UAE where the secretary of SUPARCO Dr. Arif Ali said that the commission was in initial level talks with the UAE for potential collaboration in its space program.