Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are expected to ink two major agreements — a security cooperation pact and transfer of prisoners’ agreement — during the visit of Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to the Asian country, beginning Saturday.
Several other proposals, ranging from manpower export to the Kingdom to cooperation in the agriculture sector and Saudi investment in infrastructure, will also be discussed on priority basis during the visit.
“The Kingdom and Pakistan are likely to sign the agreement on security cooperation, addressing issues especially relating to organized crime and drug trafficking, during the three-day royal visit,” Pakistani Ambassador Mohammed Naeem Khan told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Friday.
By endorsing the security pact, the two countries would, in fact, be taking a more proactive stance toward their own security and seeking to strengthen alliances, he said.
Khan said the royal visit would provide a good opportunity to explore ways and means for the further strengthening of “strategic cooperation” between Riyadh and Islamabad in diverse areas of mutual interest, particularly in expanding and enhancing investments and trade.
“Pakistan will be the first destination in the three-nation tour of Crown Prince Salman, which in itself speaks volumes about the strong brotherly ties between the two Islamic nations,” said Khan, who left for Pakistan on Friday to receive the crown prince.
The crown prince, the ambassador said, will be leading a contingent of about 350 high-ranking officials, top-notch Saudi businessmen and newsmen. His entourage will also include four senior ministers — Mohammed Al-Jasser, Minister of Economy and Planning; Tawfiq Fawzan Al-Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry; Abdulaziz Khoja, Minister for Culture and Information; and Nizar Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Asked about the details of the transfer of prisoners’ pact, Ambassador Khan said the two countries are likely to endorse an “agreement providing for the transfer of prisoners between the two nations.”
More than 2,200 Pakistani convicts and under-trials currently languishing in different jails across the Kingdom will benefit from this agreement, if it is signed during the visit of Crown Prince Salman.
This is in addition to the 4,451 Pakistani nationals, who are in detention centers of the Kingdom after they were rendered illegal following the implementation of new Saudi labor policy (Nitaqat). But, the agreement on transfer of prisoners will allow only those Pakistani workers who can serve the remaining period of their sentences in their own country.
Asked whether the security agreement covers elements of a bilateral defense pact, the envoy said a framework of defense agreement has been in place between the Kingdom and Pakistan for the last several years. “It was endorsed long back and the one on security cooperation will be a new one,” he added.
Khan said Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif and Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif will call on Crown Prince Salman and review all aspects of the defense cooperation.
Asked about the economic plans and proposals that the two sides are likely to discuss, the envoy pointed out the state-owned Pakistan Board of Investment would present millions of dollar worth of investment opportunities to Saudi businessmen during their joint business meeting on Feb. 16 in Islamabad. “I believe that there will be an interest also as to how to assist Pakistan in power generation sector,” noted Khan… see more