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Qatar emir’s visit to boost economic ties

Qatar emir’s visit to boost economic ties

ISLAMABAD: Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will visit Pakistan this month as Islamabad tries to balance its economic and political ties with Arab nations which are competing for regional dominance.

The Qatari emir’s visit will build partnership between both countries and further strengthen bilateral ties, announced Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar while addressing a press conference. The emir is expected to arrive on June 22.

However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which bailed out Islamabad six months ago, has reacted in the past against warming ties with Qatar. The UAE had announced $3 billion in cash assistance for Pakistan but withheld the last tranche of $1 billion after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Qatar in January, senior government officials told media.

Before PM’s visit to Qatar, the UAE had assured Pakistan of $3 billion in cash deposits and $3.2 billion of oil supply on deferred payments. It has already declined to provide the oil facility and disbursed only $2 billion in cash.

Now, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has placed a condition that Pakistan should get short-term loans obtained from China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia rescheduled. There are apprehensions that Qatar emir’s visit can undermine Pakistan’s efforts to get financial relief from the UAE.

“Pakistan’s relations with Qatar are independent of its ties with other countries,” said Bakhtyar, while responding to a question whether the emir’s visit may undermine efforts to get the $2-billion UAE loan rescheduled.

“There is no pressure from the UAE on Pakistan about its relations with other countries and our foreign policy is independent,” said the planning minister.

The finance ministry spokesman did not respond to a question about the IMF’s condition for the rollover of short-term loans, including $2 billion from the UAE.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have boycotted Qatar and cut trade and economic ties with the oil and gas-rich nation.