Pakistan reiterates stand for Saudi Arabia’s security

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is talking to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on September 19, 2019. Khan arrived in the Kingdom on a two-day official visit ahead of his trip to New York where he is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly later this month. (Photo Courtesy: Consulate General of Pakistan Jeddah)
Updated 20 September 2019

Pakistan reiterates stand for Saudi Arabia’s security

  • Pakistani prime minister held meetings with the Saudi leadership during his two-day official visit
  • Saudi leadership reiterated its “steadfast support and solidarity for the Kashmir cause,” PM office said

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Saudi leadership that his country would stand by Saudi Arabia if the sanctity and security of the holiest Muslim places in the Kingdom were in danger, said the PM Office on Friday.
“Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the recent attacks on oil installations in Abqaiq and Khurais and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to Saudi Arabia against any threat to its security and territorial integrity,” the statement read.
During the visit, Khan held wide-ranging talks with the Saudi leadership. 
Extending a warm welcome to the Prime Minister, the Saudi leadership underscored that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is based on “real brotherhood,” the PM office said. 
Khan held separate meetings with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“The two sides underlined the deep and multi-faceted quality of the relationship and reaffirmed the resolve to enrich it further in myriad dimensions,” according to the official handout.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser on Finance Hafeez Sheikh, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, and PM’s special aide for overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari accompanied the premier.
In meetings with Saudi leadership PM Khan also underscored, in detail, the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in the “Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the grave risks posed to peace and security in the aftermath of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August and its irresponsible and belligerent rhetoric and actions.”
“Noting that the indefensible lockdown of over 8 million Kashmiris had continued for 46 days,” Khan stressed the need of urgently lifting the curfew and restrictions, respect for the rights and freedom of Kashmiris, and resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the pivotal role that OIC’s consistent support for the Kashmir cause has played.
“The Saudi leadership expressed concern over the situation and reiterated its steadfast support and solidarity for the Kashmir cause,” the statement said.
On the bilateral plane, the Prime Minister recalled the historic visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan in February 2019 and noted that it had imparted a strong momentum to the growth trajectory of the relationship.
“The two sides reiterated the resolve to further intensify bilateral trade, energy, investment and people-to-people contacts,” the statement said.
Khan also conveyed sincere gratitude for Pakistan’s inclusion in the Road-To-Makkah Project and hoped for its extension to other major cities in Pakistan.
This was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since assuming office in August 2018. His last visit was in May 2019 to attend the 14th Session of the OIC Islamic Summit in Makkah.
Prime Minister office said that the long-standing Pakistan-Saudi fraternal ties are marked by trust, understanding, mutual support and standing by each other.
Saudi Arabia hosts the largest number of Pakistani diaspora anywhere in the world.
Saudi Arabia is among the founding members of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir.
After concluding his visit to the Kingdom, he will continue his journey to New York where he will attend the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the PM Office added.
Governor Makkah Prince Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz received Khan at the Royal Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport. Pakistan’s envoy to Saudi Arabia, Raja Ali Ejaz, was also in attendance.


Legislators, stakeholders decide to revive defunct Pakistan Steel Mills

Updated 21 October 2019

Legislators, stakeholders decide to revive defunct Pakistan Steel Mills

  • Senate body decides to clear Rs14-15 billion of workers’ dues in 18 months, Senator Aurangzeb Khan tells Arab News
  • The mill’s closure has cost the country Rs50 billion during the last 14 months: Stakeholders

KARACHI: Pakistan’s legislators and stakeholders on Monday decided to revive the country’s largest lossmaking public sector megacorporation, the Pakistan Steel Mills, and clear about Rs15 billion belonging to its workers, a senator and stakeholders confirmed to Arab News on Monday.

A meeting of Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production was held to review the revival plan of the Pakistan Steel Mills which has remained non-functional since June 2015 after witnessing a decline in its production since 2008.

“The steel mill will be revived and for that, we have scheduled an advisory meeting in the next 15 days that will determine our future course of action. Today’s meeting was attended by professionals and they have informed us that the mill is 100 percent in working condition. They also maintained that some vested interest groups do not want to run the steel mills,” said Senator Aurangzeb Khan, member of the standing committee.

“When and how to restart the steel mills will be decided in the next meeting,” he assured.

The Pakistan Steel Mills was constructed in 1973 under an agreement signed between the country’s administration and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) in 1971. The Soviets also agreed to provide technical and financial assistance for the construction work.

The senator said that the accumulated dues of workers and stakeholders had increased to around Rs15 billion since the closure of the mill.

“The steel mill is closed and the workers’ dues have accumulated to Rs14-15 billion. Today we have decided that the dues will be paid in 18-month installments of Rs5 billion which will be released in six months each,” Khan said.

Pakistan is also seeking Chinese and Russian help to revive the steel mills, though the stakeholders informed the senate body they could revive it on their own with local expertise.

“We don’t need any Chinese or Russian experts; we can run the mill with local expertise. Machinery and specialists, if needed, will be allowed to hire,” Mumrez Khan, the convener of the PSM Stakeholders’ Group, comprising employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers, and contractors, told Arab News.

The incumbent government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking at various options to revive the steel mills that include induction of professional management, but no final decision has so far been made in this connection.

“The daily losses are estimated to be around Rs120 million due to the closure of plants,” Mumrez Khan claimed, adding that during the last 14 months of the current administration the closure of the mill has cost the country Rs50 billion.

The stakeholders made the revival of the mill contingent on the reconstitution of the board of directors by inducting relevant experts and professional management.

They also insisted on initiating the accountability process against people responsible for its closure, asking the government to refer their cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and instruct the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to recover the mill’s dues.

“The steel import tariff must be rationalized to provide level playing field to all the competitors in the country,” Khan added, claiming that “the revival of the steel mills will add Rs100 billion revenue.”

“I have informed the legislators that the accumulated losses of the steel mills have jumped to about $11 billion due to the closure of plants and imports of steel products,” he said.

Pakistan is also mulling to privatize this lossmaking public entity but no decision has so far been taken. However, it was decided that the defunct entity would be revived before taking any final decision regarding its privatization.

Spread over an area of 18,600 acres with 10,390 acres for the main plant, the Pakistan Steel Mills is located 40 kilometers from Karachi in the Port Qasim vicinity. The PSM had a production capacity of 1.1 million tons of steel which was expandable to 3 million tons per annum. The main PSM products included coke, pig iron, billets, cold-rolled sheets, hot-rolled sheets, and galvanized sheets.