Pakistan, Saudi Arabia review investment projects signed in February

A general view of Gwadar port in Gwadar, Pakistan, October 4, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2019

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia review investment projects signed in February

  • Saudi deputy minister of energy meets Pakistan’s commerce minister and BoI chief
  • The two sides review progress on investment in energy, petroleum and mining sectors

KARACHI: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Thursday discussed ways to expedite work on the Kingdom’s investment projects pledged under the $21 billion deals signed between the two countries in February this year.
A Saudi delegation headed by the Kingdom’s Deputy Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer met Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Zubair Gilani to review progress on the implementation of investment projects.
“The visiting Saudi delegation held discussions to expedite projects in energy, petroleum and mining sectors,” a BoI official, who declined to be named, told Arab News.
During the meeting, the Saudi “delegation appreciated the progress on the investment front made during the previous year and described it as more the combined progress of the last ten years,” the official added.
Pakistan has also offered Saudi investors to explore investment opportunities in power sector which has already been identified for privatization.
Saudi Arabia is also interested in the mining sector, especially in the mineral resources of the country’s southwestern Balochistan province. “Mining in Balochistan is a provincial subject but the BoI has assured full support to Saudi investors. Where the potential exists, the BoI will support the implementation of projects,” the official informed.
Faced with energy shortage, Pakistan is taking steps to increase the share of renewable energy in its total energy mix which is dominated by fossil fuel at present. “During the meeting it was also decided to speed up the progress on the project for renewable power generation in Balochistan,” the official said.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had signed seven investment agreements during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit to Islamabad in February this year.
These consist of a mega oil refinery that will be constructed in Pakistan’s Balochistan province for $11 billion and will house a petrochemical complex project in Gwadar deep-sea port.
The proposed mega oil refinery and petrochemical complex to be set up by Saudi Arabia will help Pakistan with technology, skill enhancement and human capital development. It will also result in employment generation and development of downstream, allied sectors.


PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

Updated 26 January 2020

PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

  • PTI’s KP chief on Sunday expelled three cabinet members for creating pressure against him
  • Political analysts say main challenge for government is to keep its coalition partners intact

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fully support Punjab’s Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and quashed any questions of his replacement in a ministerial meeting in Lahore on Sunday amid reports of growing differences within the party, according to a lawmaker present at the meeting. 
Earlier, a group of 20 dissident lawmakers of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Punjab-- Pakistan’s biggest province-- demanded Buzdar improve governance of the province and ensure a fair distribution of development funds among the districts.
“The Prime Minister said that Buzdar enjoyed his full support and any change in Punjab set-up would create trouble for the party,” a senior leader of the PTI and member of the national assembly Raja Riaz told Arab News.
“He said that Buzdar would continue as Punjab Chief Minister and the party has no plans of changing him,” Riaz said.
The Prime Minister’s support for Buzdar comes on the same day three senior ministers of PTI’s provincial government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province were expelled, reportedly to quell party differences. In media reports, the ministers have been accused of creating a forward bloc against KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. 
KP’s sacked ministers include Muhammad Atif Khan, who looked after sports, culture and tourism; Shahram Khan Tarakai, who was responsible for the provincial health sector; and Shakeel Ahmed, who held the portfolio of revenue and estate.
According to prominent political analysts in Pakistan, the political moves signal that leaders of the ruling party are losing control of their lawmakers due to bad governance and a failure to improve the economy to benefit the common man.
“The cracks in the ruling party show a total failure of governance,” Adnan Rehmat, a political analyst, told Arab News. “PTI leaders, including the prime minister, have been living in a bubble while the people have been suffering for their inaction.”
Rehmat said that differences in ruling parties start emerging when they fail to deliver and meet public expectations. 
“The provincial ministers who are fired were apparently lobbying to gain more privileges and authority, but the leadership seems to have taken it as a violation of party discipline,” he said.
Now it seems, the ruling party’s problems are not only limited to its own lawmakers. The party’s coalition partners have also been voicing concerns over governance and performance. A key cabinet member of the government from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) resigned from his position earlier this month, saying the government had not fulfilled their demands.
“The coalition governments have been inherently weak in nature as the partners always try to extract maximum concessions and benefits from the ruling party,” Zaigham Khan, a political analyst, told Arab News.
“Now with each passing day, public pressure and demands of its coalition partners will increase, and this government will become more unstable,” he said.
“Main challenge for this government is to keep its coalition partners intact in both the center and Punjab; otherwise the equation may change in the coming months,” he added.
“Imran Khan has fully supported Usman Buzdar as chief minister of the Punjab, but will it bridge the gulf among the party fellows?” senior journalist Salim Bokhari told Arab News. “That is the big question.”