Pakistan PM flies to US on Saudi crown prince’s special plane

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Dr. Asad M. Khan and Maleeha Lodhi, the country's representative to the United Nations, receives Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York who will attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (PID)
Updated 22 September 2019

Pakistan PM flies to US on Saudi crown prince’s special plane

  • Adviser commends Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘magnanimous’ gesture
  • Khan’s visit to the Kingdom prior to trip to Washington significant, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s media adviser on Sunday praised the “magnanimous” gesture of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who stopped the Pakistani premier from using a commercial airliner to fly to the United States and arranged a special plane for him to go to New York.
“This happens in bilateral relations,” Iftikhar Durrani told Arab News. “Prime Minister Imran Khan went to Saudi Arabia on a commercial flight. It was the magnanimity of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he offered a special plane to him for his travel from Saudi Arabia to the United States.”
Khan began his week-long visit to the US on Saturday to attend the 74th United Nations General Assembly session and participate in a host of other activities, including a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Durrani said the PM would take a commercial plane while flying back home since “he is always concerned about public money.”
“Pakistan is deeply respected in the Muslim world,” he continued. “Imran Khan’s stature is also acknowledged as a statesman in the whole world due to his social work and philanthropy.”
He said there was a lot in common between the prime minister and the Saudi crown prince. “When the Saudi leader visited Islamabad, he said that the Kingdom wanted to work with Pakistan for a while but was waiting for such leadership. So the two leaders have a chemistry. They like each other.”
Dr. Mussarrat Amin, an international relations expert, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had close ties and the Kingdom had always assisted the South Asian country in times of need.
“Recently, Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan overcome economic crisis,” she noted. “Khan’s earlier visit to the US was also arranged by the crown prince which produced positive results for Pakistan.”
She added that Saudi Arabia was in a position to help Pakistan in its diplomatic engagements with the Trump administration. Amin claimed this was also the reason why Khan visited the Kingdom before flying to New York.
“The Saudis can influence the United States to play a mediatory role between Pakistan and India,” Amin said. “People in this country expect great things from the Kingdom when it comes to the Kashmir issue.”
Both Pakistani and Indian prime ministers are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 27.
While Khan on Sunday is scheduled to meet US politicians, diplomats and businessmen – such as Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and David Fenton and George Soros – his first informal engagement on Monday will be with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on breakfast.
The Pakistani prime minister will also meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and President Trump on the same day.
Pakistan’s former ambassador, Ali Sarwar Naqvi, told Arab News this was a very important visit for the country since the prime minister would interact with highest level of global leadership in the US.
“This visit provides an opportunity to sensitize the international community over the Kashmir issue,” Naqvi, who also represented his country at the UN, pointed out. “The prime minister’s meeting with President Trump will be very useful, especially for Kashmir issue, as it will give him the opportunity to make the US president realize the grave situation in Kashmir due to the communications blackout and curfew that have been in place for the last 48 days.”
Naqvi also appreciated Saudi crown prince’s gesture, saying it showed the warmth between the two countries. He added that Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia ahead of his US trip was significant.
“PM Khan reached out to the Saudi crown prince to stop escalation of situation in this region due to India’s actions in Kashmir,” he said.


Pakistan expects local manufacturing of big cell phone brands after policy change

Updated 26 May 2020

Pakistan expects local manufacturing of big cell phone brands after policy change

  • Arrival of high-end brands will give local industry opportunity to become part of global value chain
  • Local manufacturing of handsets will create more employment opportunities, reduce outflow of foreign exchange

KARACHI: Pakistan expects local manufacturing of major cell phone brands following the approval of the first Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy, officials and manufacturers said on Monday.

“Some big brands got in touch with us when they discovered that we were working on the policy. Hopefully, one of them will come to Pakistan within a year,” Pervaiz Iftikhar, who is part of Prime Minister’s Taskforce on IT and Telecom, told Arab News.

“Ultimately big brands will come to Pakistan, though it will not happen immediately since high-profile companies normally take time to make such decisions,” he said while declining to name the brands that have shown interest in manufacturing in Pakistan.

Global brands like Nokia representatives in Pakistan say they are monitoring the industrial situation and government regulations closely.

“We have prepared a proposal in the context of this development. However, global companies do not take decisions very quickly, especially when they involve setting up operations somewhere,” Arif Shafique, HMD Global Country Head for Pakistan and Afghanistan, told Arab News.

Pakistan approved the mobile manufacturing policy to encourage local production of handsets on Thursday, hoping it would also have a positive impact on allied industries.

The new policy is designed to attract high-end brands that will help the local industry become part of the global value chain.

The policy seeks to set up research and development centers and create an elaborate ecosystem for software applications. Various tax incentives have been given to manufacturers for local production.

With a population of 220 million people, Pakistan’s telecom sector offers attractive investment opportunities since it boasts of 165 million mobile phone subscribers with 76 million 3G-4G users, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The authority has already issued licenses to some 29 mobile manufacturers for the production of handsets.

“Out of 29 licensees, 18 have started manufacturing and are mainly assembling 2G mobile sets,” Aamir Allawala, CEO of Transsion Tecno, a joint venture between Transsion Holdings China and Tecno Pack Pakistan, told Arab News.

The joint venture company is the first to start manufacturing 3G and 4G smartphones in Pakistan. It produces Infinix, Tecno and Itel brands in its Karachi facility and has sold 500,000 units since February 2020.

“The country produces around 12 million handsets annually against the market size of 40 million units. About 28 million sets are also imported annually,” Allawala said.

“Local production figures will more than double in the coming days if the expected investments are made,” Pervaiz Iftikhar said.

The country meets a chunk of its mobile phone demand by importing handsets which adds to its deficit. During the last fiscal year, Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $755.5 million, but the import of these devices increased by 63 percent to $1 billion during July-April period of the current financial year.

“Previously, duties and tariffs did not make local manufacturing a viable option,” Allawala said. “That made the import of handsets more feasible. However, this is likely to change with the introduction of the new policy.”

Manufacturers say this labor-intensive industry has a potential to create 200,000 jobs, and the 49 percent localization of parts within the next three years is likely to help the country export mobile phones.

“It will also reduce the burden on the country’s forex reserves,” Allawala added.

However, some industry players emphasized the importance of keeping the policy consistent.

“It takes high investment to assemble smart phones. When such investments are made, governments take U-turns and implement new policies or impose new duties and taxes,” Imran Ghani, CEO of Tri-Angels Electronics that manufactures Hisense TV in Pakistan and intends to make smartphones, told Arab News.

Local manufacturing was of cellphones was encouraged after Pakistan implemented its Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in 2018 to control the smuggling of mobile phone devices through the registration of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The move not only resulted in the growth of local manufacturing but also encouraged imports through legal channels.