Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan paid a quick visit to Islamabad on Sunday ─ his first in nearly 12 years ─ and met the prime minister and other top officials as both countries seek to capitalize on the fresh momentum in ties due to a flurry of recent contacts at the leadership level.
Pakistani and United Arab Emirates leadership have met thrice now in three months. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the UAE twice after assuming office in August to seek economic assistance. Both countries last week finalized the terms and conditions of a $6.2bn support package for Islamabad to help address the balance of payments crisis.
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who last visited Pakistan in 2007, was given a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute when he touched down at Nur Khan airbase around noon today amid much fanfare in the capital.
Billboards displaying the crown prince’s face and positive messages about Pak-UAE ties were put up across the city to welcome the visiting dignitary. A troupe of folk musicians and cultural dancers also put on a small show to receive him.
Prime Minister Imran Khan hugged the crown prince as he stepped off the plane and then, setting aside protocol, drove him personally to PM House where a welcome ceremony honoring him was held.
At PM House, a guard of honor was presented by a contingent of the armed forces to the visiting dignitary, who reviewed the parade. The national anthems of both countries were played, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was given a fly-past by an impressive formation of JF-17 fighter jets.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Muhamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in a one on one meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan. pic.twitter.com/vaEXB7EYjG
— Government of Pakistan (@GovtofPakistan) January 6, 2019
The crown prince also met members of the premier’s cabinet at the ceremony, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister of State for Interior Shahryar Afridi, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari.
Soon after his arrival, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Khan.
Following that, the visitors held delegation-level talks with the Pakistan side. Premier Khan led the Pakistani delegation comprising Qureshi, Umar, Chaudhry, Afridi, and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while Sheikh Mohammed led the UAE side.
Both delegations discussed bilateral relations and matters of mutual, regional and international interest.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 6, 2019
The crown prince left for the UAE around 3 pm after the whirlwind back-to-back meetings. Before departure, the foreign dignitary has presented a photo album depicting his engagements during the brief visit.
The new support package from the UAE is the same size and has the same terms and conditions as those given by Saudi Arabia, according to a cabinet member who earlier spoke to Dawn regarding the development.
With the new package, Pakistan will save a total of about $7.9bn on oil and gas imports from the two friendly countries, accounting for over 60pc of the annual oil import bill amounting to roughly $12-13bn.
This includes about $3.2bn each of oil supplies on deferred payments from the UAE and Saudi Arabia and about $1.5bn in trade finance from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).
The total financing support from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, including the ITFC’s trade finance, is to be around $13.9-14bn when cash deposits of $3bn each from the two countries are also included, according to the cabinet member.
Additionally, a deep-conversion oil refinery is to be set up by Parco — a joint venture of Pakistan and Abu Dhabi — worth $5-6bn at Khalifa Point and an expected petrochemical complex by Saudi Arabia at Gwadar Oil City.