Intl desk, Oct 26: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday highlighted the need for improving ties with India, but cheekily said that after Pakistan’s emphatic win against the latter in the T20 World Cup it was “not a good time” for such a conversation.
Addressing the Pakistan-Saudi Investment Forum in Riyadh, the premier spoke about Pakistan’s growth potential and highlighted the country’s youth and strategic location.
“We have two of the biggest markets in the world neighbouring us, through Afghanistan we have [access] to Central Asian markets.
“We have excellent relations with China, but if somehow we improve our relationship with India — I know after last night’s thrashing by the Pakistan team in the cricket match, it’s not a very good time to talk about improving relations with India,” he said.
The prime minister’s remarks come a day after Pakistan made history by defeating India for the first time in a World Cup fixture. The win was Pakistan’s first in 13 World Cup matches (seven in the 50 over World Cup and six in the Twenty20 World Cup) dating back to 1992 in Australia.
Speaking in Riyadh, the premier said that the two countries had only one issue — Indian-occupied Kashmir, and urged for resolving it like “civilised” neighbours.
“It’s all about human rights and the rights of the people of Kashmir for self-determination as guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council 72 years ago.
“If that right is given to them, we have no other problems. The two countries can live as civilised neighbours […] just imagine the potential.”
He said that India would gain access to Central Asia through Pakistan and in turn the latter would gain access to two huge markets.
“This is what I want to impress upon the Saudi business community, that circumstances never remain the same. They always change.”
He said that the most successful business people are those who look ahead and take risks. “The ones who go on the trodden path never really become outstanding in any field, let alone business.”
Once again highlighting Pakistan’s strategic location, the prime minister said that Saudi businessmen could benefit from what the country has to offer.
He mentioned the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project and the Central Business District project and called for investors to invest in them.
He also mentioned another project along the River Indus with 300,000 acres of fertile land. He said that water was available, but a canal was required to water the land. “All we need is energy to lift that water in a canal and this whole area becomes cultivable.”
He said that the project had immense opportunities for both the countries.
Concluding his speech, PM Imran said he wanted relations between the two countries to go to another level. “A level that will benefit both the countries.
“The advantages that Pakistan has are different to the advantages Saudi Arabia has. Therefore, if we come together, it will mutually benefit both the countries.”
Pakistan stands with Kingdom against security threats’
Earlier, the premier said that the relationship between the two countries transcends all others. “Because of the two holy mosques, we are tied to the Kingdom. Second, Saudi Arabia has always stood with Pakistan during the most difficult of times.”
He said that if Saudi Arabia faces a security threat, Pakistan will stand with the Kingdom to protect its security. He also praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I have been coming to Saudi Arabia for 30 years and I have seen a change under the dynamic leadership of the crown prince. I have seen the difference.
“He is someone who has a passion for change […] and I see that.”
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that separate presentations were made on investment opportunities in Pakistan in the housing and hydropower sectors on the occasion.
The event was attended by a large number of Saudi investors and businessmen, key Pakistani business leaders, investors from the Pakistani diaspora, and stakeholders from Pakistan’s private sector based in the Kingdom, the statement said.
Leading Saudi firms, including SABIC, ACWA Power, Ma’aden, SALIC, Al-Zamil Group, Al-Bawani Group and Riyad Bank, attended the forum and affirmed their resolve to build deeper engagement with Pakistan, the PMO said.