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Opinion: Dawn of a New Era | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chairs cabinet session. (SPA)

The people and government of Pakistan are eagerly awaiting the visit of His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, to Pakistan. Visits by members of the Saudi royal family to Pakistan are memorable events and remain etched in our collective memory for decades. King Faisal’s visits to Pakistan in the 1970s are remembered fondly to this day. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah, has always had a special love for Pakistan and has visited Pakistan on five occasions. On each of those five visits, the Pakistani public showered their love on him as they thronged the streets to get a glimpse of him.

The three-day visit by Prince Salman promises to be another historic event. He commands immense respect in Pakistan due to his leadership qualities. He is seen as a staunch supporter of Pakistan. The charity named after his late wife provides much-needed services in Pakistan.

Pakistanis are proud of their special relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Based on the solid foundations of Islamic identity, common historical experiences, and a commonality of perceptions on all national and international issues, these relations continue to gain strength with each passing day.

During the visit, the Crown Prince is scheduled to hold meetings with Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. In addition, key ministers and senior defense officials are also expected to call on His Royal Highness during the visit.

The Pakistani public will never forget the spontaneous and generous way in which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince went all-out to help Pakistan when it was struck by natural calamities like earthquake and floods. We will always remember that Saudi Arabia was the one country that fulfilled all its commitments to help Pakistan in the Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative.

Under King Abdullah’s sagacious leadership, the strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has reached new heights. It is a broad-based and institutionalized relationship that is unmatched in its successes and the fact that it thrives at every level, whether in the proximity between the Pakistani and Saudi publics, the corresponding outlooks on international issues, or the close partnership at the strategic level. Pakistan understands that Saudi Arabia’s stability and security is a guarantee of the stability of the international energy market and economic system. Its security and stability is also close to the heart of every Pakistani in any part of the world.

In the last few months bilateral interaction between the two sides has intensified. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was among those world leaders who called Prime Minister Sharif over telephone to convey his congratulations on winning the elections held in May 2013. Prime Minister Sharif visited the Kingdom in early August 2013 to perform umrah. During the visit, he called on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and also met the Crown Prince. President Hussain visited the Kingdom on October 11, 2013, to perform Hajj. He called on the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah, on October 17, 2013. The Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, led a 10-member parliamentary delegation to visit the Kingdom on November 17, 2013 at the invitation of the Speaker of Shura Council. The Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel, Sharif visited the Kingdom in early February and called on Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz.

From the Saudi side, a number of visits have taken place as well. The Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, visited Pakistan in January. His visit was followed by the visits of Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan and Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities Prince Sultan Bin Salman to Pakistan during the last few weeks. These frequent bilateral contacts are an indicator the leadership of the two countries’ attaches to bilateral cooperation.

The Pakistani leadership is greatly impressed with the way the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince have led their country. The royal family has put the Kingdom on stable foundations of progress and reform. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has focused on the right priorities of education, social sector development and empowerment of women, within the framework of Islam. Today, the Kingdom has world-class infrastructure. Its economy is thriving at a time when most countries are going through a recession or slowdown. At a time when the entire region is faced with challenges, the Kingdom is enjoying peace and is an island of stability.

The two countries have realized that the economic cooperation between the two countries needs to be enhanced. The Crown Prince is leading a high-powered delegation during the visit that includes senior managers of the Kingdom’s commerce, economy and planning sectors. A large delegation consisting of prominent businessmen is also accompanying the Crown Prince, and it will hold meetings of the Joint Business Council. Pakistani officials have drawn up a productive program and arranged appropriate meetings for the business delegation to take full advantage of the presence of these captains of Saudi industry and business in Pakistan.

In the last few years, significant developments have taken on economic and commercial cooperation. A delegation of Saudi Food and Drug Authorities undertook a visit to Pakistan in March 2012. Commerce Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabeea visited Islamabad, leading a large delegation of businessmen, in September 2012 to attend the Joint Ministerial Commission meeting. A Saudi delegation visited Pakistan in March 2013 to attend a follow-up meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission. A high-level delegation of the Saudi Agriculture and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC) visited Pakistan a few weeks ago to examine the prospects for investing in Pakistan’s rice and meat sectors. Another team of technical experts of Saudi Ministry of Agriculture also visited Pakistan recently to study health and veterinary standards of the poultry, livestock and dairy industries in Pakistan.

The keenly awaited visit of the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, will boost to bilateral relations and the decades-old cooperation between the two countries. It is bound to herald a new era in bilateral cooperation between the two brotherly countries, which already have an exemplary relationship.

Long live Pakistan–Saudi Arabia friendship.