‘Consider me in Saudi Arabia the ambassador of Pakistan’ — crown prince

‘Consider me in Saudi Arabia the ambassador of Pakistan’ — crown prince
Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman have a one-on-one meeting at the Prime Minister House on Sunday, followed by the inaugural session of the Supreme Coordination Council, jointly co-chaired by the two leaders. The two countries signed $60 in agreements on the first day of a two-day state visit by the crown prince. (PID photo)
Updated 18 February 2019

‘Consider me in Saudi Arabia the ambassador of Pakistan’ — crown prince

‘Consider me in Saudi Arabia the ambassador of Pakistan’ — crown prince
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kicks off two-day visit to Islamabad by signing seven agreements worth $20 billion
  • Pakistani PM Khan says Islamabad and Riyadh have elevated their relationship to “level where it has never been before”

ISLAMABAD: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to consider him the “ambassador of Pakistan” in Saudi Arabia moments after the two countries signed seven memoranda of understanding (MoUs) worth $20 billion in the fields of energy, petrochemicals, minerals and others.

The MoUs were signed by Pakistani ministers and their Saudi counterparts on Sunday night in the presence of the crown prince and the prime minister and "cover areas such as Standard Specifications, Mineral Resources, Investment in Refining and Petro Chemical Sectors, power generation, development of renewable energy projects, and cooperation in the Field of Youth and Sports," the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement. 

The crown prince kicked off a rare Asian tour with a two-day visit to Pakistan on Sunday evening. After Islamabad, he will travel onwards to India and China.

On a personal request by PM Khan to the Saudi crown prince to allow Hajj pilgrims to go through immigration procedures inside Pakistan and to look into the conditions of Pakistani workers, particularly prisoners, in Saudi Arabia, the crown prince said Saudi Arabia would do “whatever we can do” to oblige Pakistan.
“Just consider me in Saudi Arabia the ambassador of Pakistan,” the crown prince said amid applause by Saudi and Pakistani ministers, journalists and businessmen present at the banquet at the Prime Minister House.
He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had signed investment MoUs worth $20 billion.
“It’s big for phase one, and definitely, it’s going to grow … and be beneficial for both countries,” the crown prince said. “We believe that Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future and we want to be sure that we are part of that.”
Earlier, the prime minister and the crown prince had a one-on-one meeting at the Prime Minister House, followed by the inaugural session of the Supreme Coordination Council, jointly co-chaired by the two leaders. The Council was formed “to fast track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation, and for close monitoring of their implementation,” the Prime Minister House said in a statement on Sunday night.
“Under the Supreme Coordination Council, a Steering Committee and Joint Working Groups have been set up at Ministerial and Senior Officials levels, to develop frameworks of cooperation in specific projects and submit recommendations to the respective Ministers,” the statement said.

Khan and the crown prince will co-chair sessions of the joint working groups on Monday.
“For Pakistanis this is a great day,” Khan said in a speech delivered after the signing of the MoUs. “Saudi Arabia has always been a friend for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has been a friend when Pakistan has needed friends,” he said, adding that “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are taking their relationship to a level where it has never been before.”
Last year, Saudi Arabia had offered Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports to help stave off a current account crisis.
Speaking about the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of energy and infrastructure projects that forms a key node in China’s ambitious Belt and Road plan linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond, the Pakistani prime minister said he hoped Saudi Arabia would participate with Islamabad in what he considered an “exciting future.”
“We have CPEC, we have links with China, we have very close connectivity with probably what is the biggest market in the world, which is China,” the Pakistani prime minister said. “So we welcome Saudi Arabia to participate with us. It’s an exciting future.”


'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 

Updated 19 October 2020

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 
  • Fisherfolk forum says government plan to allow Chinese to carry out deep-sea fishing in territorial waters could render millions jobless 
  • Federal government says bottom trawling will not be allowed under new fishing policy

KARACHI: A pressure group that represents Pakistani fishermen has said a government plan to allow Chinese companies to carry out deep-sea fishing in the country’s territorial waters could threaten the survival of at least three million people who depend on the sea for livelihood.
Last month, 12 Chinese deep-sea trawlers docked at the port of Karachi, unleashing fear among local fishermen who say commercial fishing vessels and bottom-trawling would deplete fish stocks in the exclusive federal sea zones off the Sindh and Balochistan provinces. 
Bottom trawling - dragging nets across the sea floor to scoop up fish - stirs up the sediment lying on the seabed, displaces or harms some marine species, causes pollutants to mix into plankton and move into the food chain and creates harmful algae blooms or oxygen-deficient dead zones.
The coastal line of Sindh and Balochistan is 1,050 km long, Mohammad Ali Shah, Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, told Arab News last week, saying around three million fishermen relied on the sea to survive. 
A new fishing policy is expected but yet to be revealed by the government, he said. 
“The deep-sea trawler policy has not yet been approved but before that they [China] have brought these trawlers,” Shah said, calling the arrival of the Chinese vessels at Karachi port last month ‘illegal.’ 

In this undated photo, fishing vessels of Fujian Fishery Company move from the Gwadar port towards Karachi, Pakistan (Photo courtesy: Fishermen Cooperatives Society)

In 2018, the government enacted a deep-sea fishing licensing policy that both fishermen's representative bodies and provincial government bodies opposed, calling it a constitutional violation and an encroachment on the livelihoods of fishermen in the coastal provinces.
Fears about foreign fishing companies eating up local communities are not new.
For years, fishermen in the southwestern city of Gwadar in Balochistan province - a flagship of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - have protested against foreign trawlers. 
Tensions first began to mount when the Fisheries Department disclosed its plan to issue licenses to various foreign fishing vessels to operate in an exclusive economic zone in 2016.
But last week, the federal minister for maritime affairs, Ali Haider Zaidi, told Arab News the country’s new deep-sea fishing policy would not allow Chinese trawlers to engage in unregulated deep-sea fishing. Bottom trawling, he said, would be banned under the new policy.
“Importing boats is not illegal,” he said. “How you use them has to be regulated.”
Pakistan divides its sea into three zones, where zone-3 (from 20 to 200 nautical miles) is controlled by the federal government. Up to 12 nautical miles (zone-1) is the domain of the provinces Sindh and Balochistan and between 12 to 20 nautical miles the sea is declared a buffer zone. 

Fishermen remove fish from a net at the Clifton beach in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Oct. 6, 2020. (AFP/File)

Local fishermen are not allowed to fish in zone-3 and foreign fishing vessels are not permitted to fish in the other two zones under the existing policy.
The Fishermen's Cooperative Society (FCS), which issued the permit to the Chinese trawlers, said the Chinese fishing vessels would not use the destructive bottom trawling method and instead help ‘upgrade’ Pakistan’s fishing industry and export.
Official figures put the annual value of Pakistan’s fish exports at roughly $450 million.
“Bringing Chinese trawlers for deep sea fishing is in line with the government’s deep-sea fishing policy and aimed at upgrading and modernizing fishing, besides providing job opportunities to local fishermen,” Abdul Berr, Chairman of the Fishermen's Cooperative Society, told Arab News.
“Around 3,500 fishermen will get employment opportunities with the arrival of the world’s latest fishing boats and modern small boats,” Berr said. 
He added: “First, 70 percent of the staff at trawlers and processing facilities will be local. There will be no fishing in provincial territorial waters. The trawlers will bring all their catch to Karachi where it will be processed in factories and then exported.”
Small local fishermen would receive modern fiber boats on ‘easy instalments,’ Berr said, a step towards replacing their obsolete boats.
But Sindh’s minister for livestock and fisheries, Abdul Bari Pitafi, said the mega fishing ships would wipe out sea-life, even if they were only operating in the federal government’s zone-3.
“We will...also oppose its [trawlers’] operations in zone-3 because they will just wipe out sea-life including the fish’s seed,” Pitafi told Arab News.
In 2016, a survey carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation revealed that more than 72 percent of the fish stock in Pakistan’s coastal areas had already declined.
“One trawler does a catch that is equal to a catch by 100 of our fishing boats,” Younus Khaskheli, a fisherman, said. “And their fishing net is the most dangerous one, because it hunts thousands of tons of fish.” 
Tens of thousands of fishing boats are registered in Pakistan, he said, with fishermen from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even Bangladesh fishing in these waters.
“Our sea stock will end; the country will lose the income of billions and our fishermen will become jobless,” Khaskheli said. “There won’t be any food left in the sea.”