Establishment of Saudi-Pak Supreme Coordination Council shows depth of relationship — envoy

Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, addresses the seminar “Pak-Saudi Relations: Past, Present and Future” on Saudi National Day in Islamabad on September 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy: SPA)
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Updated 24 September 2021

Establishment of Saudi-Pak Supreme Coordination Council shows depth of relationship — envoy

  • Council announced in 2018 “to fast-track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation, and for close monitoring of their implementation”
  • Seminar organized in Islamabad to mark Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day and attended by top officials including president, information minister

ISLAMABAD: Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said on Thursday the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council showed the depth and importance of the relationship between the kingdom and Islamabad. 
The envoy’s comments to Arab News came on the sidelines of a seminar organized in Islamabad to mark Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day and attended by top officials including the president, information minister and national security advisor.
In February 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a one-on-one meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in Islamabad, followed by the inaugural session of the Supreme Coordination Council, which was co-chaired by the two leaders. 
The high-powered council was proposed by the crown prince during a visit by Khan to Saudi Arabia in October 2018. The objective, as the Pakistani foreign ministry announced at the time, “was to put in place a high level institutional mechanism to fast track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation, and for close monitoring of their implementation.”
“The agreement to establish the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council showed the depth and importance of the relationship between the two countries,” the Saudi envoy told Arab News, adding that a visit by Khan to Saudi Arabia this May had helped strengthen the relationship. We have always stood by Pakistan in thick and thin since its independence.”
Addressing the seminar, President Arif Alvi described Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia as “exemplary,” saying that the kingdom had always helped Pakistan in difficult times and the entire Muslim world looked toward it for leadership.




Pakistani President Arif Alvi (third from right) presents a souvenir to Saudi envoy Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki (fourth from left) at the “Pak-Saudi Relations: Past, Present and Future” in Islamabad on September 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Tahir Ashrafi)

“Saudi Arabia has supported Pakistan at every critical stage,” Alvi said. “The kingdom even stood by us after the nuclear tests [of May 1998] when everyone was trying to isolate us.”

“Pakistanis love every bit of the Saudi land,” he continued. “This love between the peoples of the two countries is ideological and will remain forever.”

The Pakistani president said there was an “exemplary” cooperation between the two states on all international forums.

“I feel that the whole Muslim ummah looks toward Saudi Arabia for leadership,” he said. “The kingdom has been the leader of the Muslim world and is still continuing to play that role effectively.”

Appreciating Saudi Vision 2030, a framework to reduce the kingdom’s dependence on oil and diversify its economy, Alvi said it would bring about a historical change and constitute a major turning point for the Arab country.

“Saudi vision 2030 will lead to a historic change and I pray for its success. Neom city [that plans to incorporate smart city technologies and function as a tourist destination] will be a unique place for the whole world,” he said, adding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had skillfully developed the vision for the future of his kingdom.




Pakistani leadership and Saudi envoy Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki pose for a photo at the “Pak-Saudi Relations: Past, Present and Future” in Islamabad on September 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Tahir Ashrafi)

Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, who was also present at the gathering, said the bilateral relations between the two countries had entered a new phase under the leadership of the Pakistani prime minister and the Saudi crown prince.

Recounting the history of these ties, he said that Saudi Arabia had supported the All India Muslim League before August 1947 by donating £10,000 on the appeal of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to deal with a crippling famine in Bengal.

“The kingdom also helped Pakistan with its membership of the United Nations after the independence,” he added.

Pakistan’s religious affairs minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said that every Pakistani’s heart and soul were connected to the holy land.

“On behalf of the Pakistani nation, I would like to appreciate the services rendered by the Saudi leadership to the pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant on the Middle East Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, who organized the event, praised the Saudi leadership for showing unconditional love and respect for his country.

“The two countries have remained close partners in all circumstances,” he said.


Remains of Sri Lankan national lynched in Pakistan’s Sialkot flown to Colombo 

Updated 06 December 2021

Remains of Sri Lankan national lynched in Pakistan’s Sialkot flown to Colombo 

  • Priyantha Kumara was publicly attacked and killed by Muslim mob last week over blasphemy allegations 
  • Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s aide promises all those involved in heinous crime will be brought to justice 

ISLAMABAD: The remains of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara, who was lynched in the northeastern Pakistani city of Sialkot last week, were flown to Colombo from Lahore via a SriLankan Airlines flight on Monday, Pakistani officials said.
A Muslim mob on Friday attacked and killed Sri Lankan Priyantha Kumara and burned his body publicly over allegations he had committed blasphemy in the northeastern city of Sialkot.
Blasphemy is considered a deeply sensitive issue in Pakistan, and carries the death penalty. International and domestic rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.
Kumara’s remains were transported from Lahore to Colombo via SriLankan Airlines flight UL-186 at 12:30pm on Monday, in the presence of Pakistani and Sri Lankan officials.
“On the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, I am at the airport to send mortal remains of Priyantha Kumara to Sri Lanka with complete state protocol,” Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, special representative of the Pakistani PM on religious harmony, told Arab News.
Ashrafi vowed that all perpetrators of the heinous crime would be brought to justice. “PM Khan is himself overseeing all developments in the investigation. It is not a religious matter, but the people who were involved used not only religion but defamed it too.”
Pakistan’s acting high commissioner Tanvir Ahmed will be at the Colombo airport along with Sri Lankan officials to receive Kumara’s remains, according to the Pakistani high commission in Colombo.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said what happened in Sialkot should not have happened, describing the lynching as a “painful” tragedy.
“No society allows such incidents. The Sialkot incident is under investigation and 118 people have been arrested,” he said in a statement on Monday.
“Sri Lankan government is satisfied with the steps taken by Pakistani government after the incident and wants those responsible to be punished. We are also trying to bring those responsible to justice.”
Qureshi said both the government and the society had a role to play in stopping such extremism.


Rain delays third day’s play in Bangladesh-Pakistan Test 

Updated 06 December 2021

Rain delays third day’s play in Bangladesh-Pakistan Test 

  • Only 63.2 overs of play were possible over the first two days 
  • Pakistan reached 188-2, with Babar Azam batting on 71 not out 

DHAKA: Rain triggered by a weakened cyclone delayed the start of the third day’s play in the second Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Dhaka on Monday.
Only 63.2 overs of play were possible over the first two days with Pakistan reaching 188-2 in their first innings, with skipper Babar Azam batting on 71 not out alongside Azhar Ali, 52 not out.
Taijul Islam picked both wickets to fall at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Pakistan lead the two-Test series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Chittagong by eight wickets.


FM Qureshi leaves for Belgium for sixth round of Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue 

Updated 6 min 47 sec ago

FM Qureshi leaves for Belgium for sixth round of Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue 

  • He will co-chair the dialogue with EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell 
  • EU is one of largest trade and investment partners of Pakistan with a volume of $10.883 billion 

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be visiting Belgium from December 6 to 8 to co-chair the sixth round of Pakistan-European Union Strategic Dialogue, the Pakistani foreign office said on Sunday.
Pakistan and Belgium enjoy cordial and friendly relations, based on shared values of democracy, pluralism, mutual respect and close cooperation.
Over the years, the partnership has grown stronger in diverse fields, including political, economic, trade, education and culture, and people-to-people contacts. With a trade volume of $982 million, Belgium is the fifth largest trading partner of Pakistan in the EU.
The foreign minister is visiting Brussels on the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Belgium Sophie Wilmes, the foreign office said in a statement.
“As a key component of the visit, the foreign minister will co-chair the 6th round of Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue with EU High Representative and Vice President Josep Borrell,” the statement read.
“The European Union is one of the largest trade and investment partners of Pakistan and the current volume of bilateral trade stands at US $10.883 billion. Pakistan’s relations with EU are manifested in frequent and close engagements through structured dialogues.”
The two sides signed the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) in June 2019, which provides solid framework and blue print for future cooperation. This would be the first in-person session of the strategic dialogue since the signing of the landmark SEP, according to the foreign office.
It follows the seventh round of Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue, which was virtually co-chaired by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and EU Deputy Secretary-General Enrique Mora on December 3.


Pakistani government to hold parliamentary meeting on national security today despite opposition’s boycott 

Updated 06 December 2021

Pakistani government to hold parliamentary meeting on national security today despite opposition’s boycott 

  • The joint opposition last week announced that it would boycott the meeting
  • Minister says government presenting policy before parliament first time in decades

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government will hold an in-camera meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security today despite the opposition’s boycott, local media reported on Monday, with the information minister saying this is the first time in seven decades that a government would present its national security policy before parliament.
The joint opposition had last week announced that it would boycott the meeting convened by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Monday for a presentation by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr. Moeed Yusuf on the national security policy, the Dawn newspaper reported.
“The speaker has invited more than 50 members, including Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and senior officials of the ministries concerned to attend the meeting on one-point agenda — presentation on national security policy,” the report read.
The decision regarding the opposition’s boycott was announced by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement.
She said the decision to boycott the in-camera meeting was made because of the government’s attitude of bulldozing important draft bills in the recently held joint sitting of parliament and its “persistent authoritarian approach” on important constitutional, legal, national and security issues.
When contacted, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain regretted the opposition’s decision to boycott the national security committee’s meeting, requesting it to review it, according to the report.
He said for the first time in the past seven decades, a government was presenting its national security policy before parliament. He was of the view that the opposition should not do politics on an issue related to the country’s national security.
In response to a question, the minister said the NSA would present the national security policy with regard to external affairs and keeping in view the prevailing regional situation. This policy would then be presented before the federal cabinet for approval, he added.


Islamabad, Riyadh sign accords to enhance protection, job security for Pakistanis in kingdom 

Updated 06 December 2021

Islamabad, Riyadh sign accords to enhance protection, job security for Pakistanis in kingdom 

  • The agreements encompass mutually acceptable recruitment, deployment and repatriation systems for Pakistani workers 
  • Saudi Arabia is home to over 2.5 million Pakistani expats and one of the largest remittance sources for the South Asian nation 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed two agreements on worker recruitment and skill verification to enhance the protection and job security of Pakistani nationals in the kingdom, the Pakistani foreign office said.
Saudi Arabia is home to over 2.5 million Pakistani expatriates and one of the largest sources of remittance to the South Asian nation.
On Saturday, Pakistan’s education minister Shafqat Mahmood arrived in Riyadh on a four-day visit on the invitation of his Saudi counterpart Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh.
The agreement on recruitment of workers was signed by the Saudi Deputy Minister for International Affairs Dr. Adnan bin Abdullah Alnuaim and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Lt. Gen. (retired) Bilal Akbar.
The agreement “encompassed a mutually acceptable recruitment, deployment and repatriation system for Pakistani workers seeking employment in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” a draft available with Arab News said.
Besides compliance of applicable laws, rules and regulations, the agreement ensures better job security and dispute resolution mechanism for Pakistani workers, and protection from exploitation at the hands of employers.
“The Agreement on Workers’ Recruitment will contribute toward further streamlining the process of export of workforce from Pakistan in diverse professions in the Kingdom, while safeguarding their due rights and providing comprehensive legal protection to Pakistani workers employed in Saudi Arabia,” the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement.

 


“The agreement will also help in resolving contractual disputes and taking legal recourse against recruitment offices, companies or agencies for any violation.”
The agreement on skill verification program covers the certification of skills and required qualifications of Pakistani workers seeking employment in the Kingdom.
It requires “conduct of theoretical and practical tests in fields of specialization, components of force majeure and resolution of disputes and intellectual property right issues of the workers,” the draft read.
The Pakistani foreign office said the agreement on skill verification would “enhance export of skilled and certified Pakistani workforce to the Kingdom.” 
“Certification for our skilled manpower will create opportunities for technical workforce in Pakistan to get internationally recognized trainings and certifications,” it said.
The signing of these agreements paves the way to build strategic partnerships and complementary relations between Pakistani and Saudi ministries, the draft added.