Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, concluded his two-day visit to Pakistan on Sunday, which will prove to be an impetus for strengthening the bilateral cooperation in multiple fields like defence, energy and tourism and curbing money laundering.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Qatari Amir’s visit marked the wide-ranging talks with the prime minister and President Dr Arif Alvi.
The major takeaways of the discussions between the two leaderships were the signing of the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on enhancing cooperation on crucial subjects like the financial intelligence, including the money laundering and terror financing, besides thorough discussion on regional peace, particularly the Afghan peace process.
In total, Pakistan and Qatar signed three MoUs on the establishment of a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade and Investment; cooperation on tourism and business events; and exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering, associated predicate offenses and terrorism financing.
The working group would help expand the trade and investment cooperation, strengthen communication and enhance trust between the two countries to boost economic growth by creating an enabling environment.
It would also identify the bottlenecks holding the growth of bilateral trade and investment ties, and to take measures to unlock the growth.
Trade and Investments
Both the countries resolved to discuss and consult trade, investment and their related issues i.e. summarize experience on regular basis and discover and work in a timely manner to solve concerns and difficulties faced by Pakistani and Qatari businesses in both countries.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit came at a point when a conference on Afghan peace titled ‘Lahore Process’ was being held in Bhurban on Saturday to discuss bringing peace in Afghanistan through connectivity, trade, economy and health.
As both Qatar and Pakistan have been playing an important role in the Afghan peace process, both the leaderships took notice of the progress in the process and agreed to continue working closely for regional peace and stability.
According to media reports, Qatar is likely to host the seventh round of US-Taliban talks by early next month that could follow the intra-Afghan dialogue.
During his meeting with the Amir, President Arif Alvi also lauded Qatar’s role in promoting efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, terming it a “notable contribution to regional peace”.
Fifa World Cup 2022
President Arif Alvi also admired Qatar’s efforts to promote world sports as the country is set to host FIFA World Cup 2022.
Pakistan is also working on capitalizing on FIFA World Cup 2022, which offers a huge export opportunity for Pakistani football manufacturers and exporters.
Moreover, Qatar is expecting 2.9 million fans to attend 2022 FIFA event. It shows there will be a huge demand of replica soccer balls that tourists might carry as gift items.
Bilateral Trade and Opportunities
Consequent to the detailed deliberations, both the countries agreed to take steps to significantly increase bilateral trade, expand collaboration in the agriculture and food sectors, enhance cooperation in the energy sector including in the LNG (liquefied natural gas) and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) fields, and exploration and production of oil and gas.
Tourism & Defense
The agreement to promote Qatar’s investments in energy, tourism and hospitality industries was also reached, besides increasing the number of Pakistani workers employed in Qatar. The two leaderships resolved to expand cooperation in the fields of aviation, maritime affairs, higher education, and defense production.
During his talks with President Alvi, the Amir evinced keen interest in enhanced bilateral collaboration in the energy sector as well as import of food items from Pakistan.
Realizing the dream project of Prime Minister Imran Khan to develop Pakistan as a hub of religious and expeditious tourism, the Qatari Amir offered assistance in the tourism sector through more Qatari investments and technical support in the hospitality industry.
Expressing satisfaction at the pace of recruitment of manpower from Pakistan, the Amir underlined Qatar’s desire to import additional workers as well as trained security personnel from Pakistan.
Taking note of 70% increase in Pakistan’s exports to Qatar following direct linkage between Karachi and Hamad ports, President Alvi underlined the importance of increased volume of bilateral trade and enhancing and diversifying Pakistan’s exports to Qatar.