ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz thanked Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for always rescuing his country in difficult times while dismissing rumors of any differences between the two countries.
“Saudi Arabia has always been with us and we are thankful to them,” the minister said while briefing reporters here in Islamabad on various decisions made during the federal cabinet meeting earlier in the day that was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister said the Kingdom was a brotherly country that had “always stood by us in difficult times.”
He said that a lot of Pakistani labor was working in the Kingdom, adding that the two holiest sites of Islam were also located in the same country.
To a question about the reported return of $1 billion to Saudi Arabia, he said that the money taken as a loan. “It was taken and returned. This is not in our interest to link it [the loan issue] to other things,” he said.
Saudi Arabia extended a $6.2 billion financial package, including $3 billion cash as a soft loan and $3.2 billion of deferred oil payment facility, to Pakistan in November 2018 to help the country stave off its balance of payments crisis.
The minister said that the world was moving toward readjustment as the world order was changing, especially in the last few years.
Faraz said that like every other country, “Pakistan as a sovereign state will work in the direction and pursue objectives that reinforce its national interests.”
He also added that the country could not run an independent foreign policy without acquiring adequate economic strength.
Talking about the government’s economic achievements in the last two years, he said that Pakistan’s current account deficit was brought down from $20 billion to $3 billion while the central bank’s reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion due to prudent economic policies.
The minister informed that sales of cement, fertilizers, diesel and petrol had increased many times in the last two years, reflecting an improvement of the country’s fragile economy.
He noted that the coronavirus pandemic had not hit the country’s economy as hard as other countries in the region.
“The economic revival has started … Difficult times have almost passed and better days are right ahead of us,” the minister claimed.