During his visit to Qatar, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wooed the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, to make investments in various sectors including food security, aviation, maritime, energy, tourism and petroleum sectors. Pakistan enjoys historical relations with Qatar as Doha has always provided much-needed financial support to Islamabad during any crisis. The current financial crisis is also being averted with the help of Qatar. Reportedly, Pakistan will receive the US $2 billion from Qatar in bilateral support to help ease its funding crunch and the consequent risk of a default. Moreover, the QIA has also expressed its interest to make a whooping US $ 3 billion investment in various commercial and key sectors in Pakistan.
With Pakistan still reeling from an acute energy crisis and a precarious economic situation, a lot more needs to be done to rid the country of the clutches of these crises with the help of oil-rich friendly states in the Gulf region. The government needs to boost its relations with brotherly state of Qatar. There are huge reserves of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Qatar and Pakistan needs to strike an affordable deal for purchasing LNG in this regard, which can help prevent the ongoing energy crisis in the country.
Besides, more than 200,000 Pakistani nationals currently work and live in Qatar and send remittances back to their homeland. Since the 1970s, the export of manpower policy has yielded positive results for Pakistan in the form of huge remittances. But there are some negative aspects related to the export of manpower. First, uncertainty prevails in the economies of the Gulf states too due to low oil prices, widening fiscal deficits, rising populations, political turmoil, terrorism, religious intolerance and high youth unemployment. Moreover, Pakistan is deprived of its skilled labour force because of manpower export. Realistically, no economy can flourish in the absence of skilled workers. However, due to the existing rate of unemployment in the country, Pakistanis see an opportunity in Qatar’s flourishing economy. As Qatar is going to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, it will require a lot of workforce in different sectors. Pakistani engineers and labour force can be effective in playing their role in the development of infrastructure in Qatar. Reportedly, Pakistan has already sealed a deal to provide its troops for ensuring security at the mega event. Like other Gulf states, Qatar stands prominent in offering a number of incentives to Pakistan due to its regional importance. Besides taking the benefit of these openings, there are good prospects of trade between Pakistan and Qatar. Presently, the volume of bilateral trade is $ 3.2 billion per annum, which needs to be increased. It is in the interests of Pakistan that it should boost ties with Qatar and other Gulf states. These states generously make offers to Pakistan and the latter must act positively to utilise these incentives for the welfare of the masses.