ISLAMABAD Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday signed a slew of investment agreements worth USD 20 billion which will provide a welcome relief to the teetering economy of the South Asian country.
At a ceremony in the Prime Minister House, Pakistan and Saudi officials signed MoUs for bilateral cooperation in a number of areas a process overseen by Pakistan premier Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who arrived here late evening on a two-day visit.
"Today we signed MoUs. The amount of that kind of investment is USD 20 billion. It is big for phase one and definitely it (Saudi investment in Pakistan) will grow every month, every year in bigger numbers and it will be beneficial for both the countries," the crown prince said.
"Pakistan is going to be very, very important country in the future and we want to be sure we are part of that," he added.
Seven agreements, including MoUs in power, petrochemical and mining sectors, were inked as Prince Salman launched his diplomatic trip to Asia in Islamabad.
After Pakistan, the crown prince will travel to India, where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
He is expected to finish the trip with a visit to China on Thursday and Friday.
Prince Salman said Saudi "cannot say no to Pakistan, whatever you (Pakistan) want we will do."
"For Pakistanis, this is a great day," the Pakistani premier said while addressing a dinner reception held in honour of the visiting Saudi guests at the PM House.
He said Saudi Arabia has always been there when Pakistan needed friends. "I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in (a) bad situation," Khan told the royal guest, adding that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were now taking their relationship to a new level, where investment agreements would be mutually beneficial for the countries.
"The future is exciting for both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia after joining hands," he said.
MBS orders release of over 2,000 Pakistani prisoners
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has ordered the immediate release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners from jails in Saudi Arabia.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Monday that Crown Prince Salman has ordered the release of prisoners following a request from Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said that cases of other Pakistani prisoners would also be reviewed.
The minister tweeted: As a sequel to Prime Minister of Pakistan [Imran Khans] request, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman has ordered the immediate release of 2,107 Pakistani prisoners from Saudi jails.
Prime Minister Imran Khan at a ceremony held to welcome the crown prince at PM House on Sunday night had made a "special request" to MBS to look into the hardships of Pakistani labourers working in the kingdom, and to "look upon them as your own people".
"There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind," Khan had said.
MBS had responded by assuring the premier to consider him Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammad had continued: "We cannot say no to Pakistan ... whatever we can do, we will deliver that."
Prime Minister Khan in a tweet today said that the crown prince had "won the hearts of the people of Pakistan when he said, 'Consider me Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia' in response to my asking him to treat the 2.5 million Pakistanis working in KSA as his own."
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also noted that the crown prince had "graciously agreed" to free the Pakistani prisoners "with immediate effect".
"Cases of the remaining will be reviewed," he announced.
The foreign minister said the people of Pakistan thanked the crown prince for "responding immediately" to the premier's request.
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