ISLAMABAD: Pakistani leaders and the Kingdom’s envoy to Pakistan have praised the leadership in Riyadh for its efforts to realign Middle East dynamics and open up the Saudi economy and society.
The comments came during celebrations in Islamabad on Monday to commemorate Saudi Arabia’s 93rd National Day.
The Saudi government, in an effort led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has made remarkable changes in recent years under a vast economic transformation plan, Vision 2030, to diversify away from oil and open the Kingdom to business and tourism amid increasing regional competition.
The Kingdom has also gone into diplomatic overdrive, restoring relations with Iran and agreeing to a rapprochement with Syria in its quest to rebuild regional alliances, instead of leaning entirely on the US, its long-time big power ally. It has also recently joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as part of Riyadh’s attempts to build a long-term partnership with China.
“Under the ideal leadership, Saudi Arabia is not just addressing the future, it is actively shaping it,” Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani said at a ceremony to celebrate Saudi National Day.
He added: “Dialogue and mutual respect are the bedrock on which lasting peace is made.
“We are confident that Saudi efforts will open doors to various opportunities, including trade, the sharing of initiatives, and collaboration between leaders and their followers, not only for the region but for the entire world.”
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are close allies and share strong economic, security and cultural ties. Saudi Arabia is also home to more than 2 million Pakistani expatriates, making it the largest contributor to remittance inflows.
Pakistan received $2 billion in financial support from Saudi Arabia in July, a day before the International Monetary Fund’s board gave the final approval for a $3 billion bailout deal.
Saudi Arabia’s continued economic and investment support is key for Pakistan as economic stabilization is a major challenge with the $350 billion economy on a narrow recovery path after the IMF bailout averted a sovereign debt default. Economic reforms have already fueled historic inflation and interest rates.
“Pakistan is grateful for all the support extended by the Kingdom in the difficult times,” Sanjrani said, adding that Pakistan had also provided “unwavering and never-ending” support to the Kingdom on diplomatic and security fronts.
Speaking at the ceremony, which was organized by the Saudi Embassy, Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki called on Pakistan and the world to “support all development plans and initiatives taken for the progress and prosperity of the Kingdom.”
He added: “At the forefront of these successful initiatives is the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which represents a new stage leading the country to a bright future.”