DOHA – Prime Minister Imran Khan and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Tuesday expressed their desire to enhance bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and discussed ways to strengthen partnerships in all areas of mutual interest.
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This desire was expressed during a meeting between the two leaders here at Diwan-e-Emiri where they also discussed bilateral relations as well as the emerging international dynamics.
There one-on-one meeting was preceded by a delegation level meeting. Upon his arrival at the Diwan-e-Emiri, the prime minister – who was on a two-day (January 21-22) visit – was given the Guard of Honour.
The Emir of Qatar congratulated Imran Khan on his election as prime minister and assured him of all possible support for progress and development of Pakistan. The Emir also hosted a banquet lunch in honour of the prime minster and his entourage.
Prime Minister Imran Khan extended an invitation to the Emir of Qatar to visit Pakistan on mutually convenient dates which was accepted.
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The prime minister thanked Qatar for its decision to import 100,000 Pakistani workers. He also requested the Emir for a greater share for Pakistani manpower in 2022 FIFA related large scale infrastructure development projects.
The Pakistani delegation included Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Adviser to PM Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to PM Zulfiqar Bukhari, BOI Chairman Haroon Sharif, Task Force on Energy Chairperson Nadeem Babar and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
Earlier on arrival in Doha on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a delegation level meeting with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani at his residence. He also hosted a dinner in the honour of the visiting delegation.
Apart from the high level meetings, the prime minister also held key meetings with top Qatari businessmen and investors and invited them to invest in all sectors of Pakistan’s economy.
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He invited Qatari public and private sectors to become partners in his government’s drive for construction of 5 million low cost housing units over the next five years. Qatari business leaders expressed great interest in investing in Pakistan.
The prime minister also addressed over 15,000 Pakistanis at Wakra Stadium. The Pakistani community responded with enthusiasm and great interest.
In his address Imran Khan described the overseas Pakistanis as the country’s “heroes” due to their hard-work abroad for their families as well as for the country.
He said his government would steer the country out of difficulties, ensure its economic uplift and bring in pride for the green passport. “Don’t worry! Your country will become a country where there will be respect for green passport,” he said.
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He said he had better understanding about the Pakistani expatriates abroad as he himself went to the United Kingdom at the age of 18, where he studied and used to play cricket as well. He recalled how Pakistani workers at that time were ridiculed and even discriminated racially by some white people, but they used to tolerate and continued to work hard until they succeeded in securing high socio-economic status for them in the Western world.
“Whenever I see overseas Pakistanis working hard abroad, I think that they are special ones, who always think and worry about Pakistan,” he remarked.
Imran also lauded the overseas Pakistanis for always supporting him in his fund-raising campaigns for Shaukat Khanam Hospital, NAMAL University and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. “You are the people, who work hard and send money to your country. Our country is now being run on your remittances. You are heroes of Pakistan. There are also some villains, who steal the money from the country and launder abroad. My war is against those people,” he stressed.
He said the devaluation of rupee was also due to money laundering as it caused shortage of dollars in the country that also created the balance of payment problem in Pakistan.
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Highlighting the economic problems of the country in cricket terms, Imran said when he came to power, there was a situation like he went to bat for Pakistan on 20 runs and four down. “But I know how to play in pressure,” he said and added the partnership of Imran and Miandad had started and they would bring the country out of hard time.
He said Pakistan was blessed with a lot of natural resources and opportunities and the only problem was of governance. “If there is bad governance, the rich countries can turn into poor ones.”
He said the Qatari businessmen, who met him during the visit, expressed their keenness to invest in Pakistan and also told him they were earlier shying away from investment due to corruption and heavy taxation in Pakistan. The present government had scaled down the number of taxes from 36 to 16 only and would further rationalise the tax regime, he added.
About corruption, he said his was the first government that during its first five months no corruption scandal had emerged and he was confident that none would emerge during the rest of its tenure.
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He said Malaysia and Turkey were earning $20 billion and $40 billion per annum through beach and historical tourism, respectively. Pakistan with its beaches, highest mountain peaks, and historical and religious sites had a lot of tourism potential, he added.
Imran was confident that Pakistan would earn huge amounts of foreign exchange from tourism and the country would not require financial assistance from any country.
Earlier, representatives of Sikh community in Qatar called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and thanked him for the ground-breaking of Kartarpur Corridor which was the longstanding desire of the Sikh community globally. They said Prime Minister Imran Khan by laying the foundation stone of the corridor had won the hearts of Sikhs across the globe.