Pakistan rolled out the red carpet for Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Islamabad Sunday, just weeks after his country offered $3 billion to support Pakistan’s economy.
The crown prince met Prime Minister Imran Khan and other top officials as both countries seek to capitalise on the fresh momentum in ties due to a flurry of recent contacts at the leadership level.
Pakistani and United Arab Emirates leadership have met thrice now in three months. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the UAE twice after assuming office in August to seek economic assistance. Both countries last week finalised the terms and conditions of a $6.2 billion support package for Islamabad to help address its balance-of-payments crisis.
A joint statement issued after the royal’s visit said Prime Minister Khan thanked the crown prince for the “generous” balance-of-payments support of $3 billion, which appears to have materialised first out of the total financial package.
Prime Minister Imran Khan received the crown prince at the Nur Khan Air Base as he disembarked from the plane and then drove him personally to PM’s House.
At the PM’s House, a guard of honour was presented by a contingent of the armed forces to the visiting dignitary, who reviewed the parade. The national anthems of both countries were played, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was given a fly-past by an impressive formation of JF-17 fighter jets.
The crown prince also met members of the premier’s cabinet at the ceremony, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari.
Soon after his arrival, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Khan. Following that, the visitors held delegation-level talks with the Pakistan side. Premier Khan led the Pakistani delegation comprising Qureshi, Umar, Chaudhry, Afridi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while Sheikh Mohammed led the UAE side.
According to the joint statement, the two leaders held wide-ranging talks that focussed on all areas of bilateral relations. “Taking note of the positive trajectory of relations, the two leaders expressed their determination to further strengthen this historic and mutually beneficial relationship,” the statement said. While thanking the crown prince for the $3 billion financial support, the prime minister said it was reflective of the UAE’s “continued commitment and friendship that has remained steadfast over the years”. He also welcomed the Emirates’ interest in investing in various sectors in Pakistan including oil and gas, logistics, ports and construction.
The two sides also discussed issues of regional and global importance, with Khan briefing the crown prince on the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and the plight of the Kashmiri people. The two leaders decided to form a task force for taking all necessary measures to deal with matters relating to trade enhancement. During the meeting, Prime Minister Khan and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed noted that the Pakistan-UAE Joint Ministerial Commission, to be co-chaired by the two countries’ foreign ministers in Abu Dhabi next month, could “play a pivotal role in chalking out a comprehensive roadmap, and in fast-tracking the approval of pending agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs)”. The two leaders expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing defence and security cooperation between the two countries and resolved to explore further collaboration in the areas of training, joint exercises and defence production.
The crown prince in his comments recognised the “efforts and unparalleled sacrifices” made by Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and extremism. Later, the crown prince left for the UAE after the whirlwind back-to-back meetings.