Pakistan remains one of the most geopolitically strong countries in the world. Its location contributes to its international power and plays a role in the country remaining in the limelight. Despite the benefits the location provides, Pakistan has had to face a lot of troubles too. The Pakistani Foreign office is expected to bring in deals, expand the opportunities for overseas Pakistanis and handle any difficulties faced.
Due to its location, the country is able to connect many regions, Central and South Asia, Gulf countries and other important Muslim brotherhood states. But with the location, comes the challenges of choosing who to ally with and at times the choices can result in severe consequences.
Ever since the State of Qatar gained its independence, in 1971, it has developed good ties with Pakistan. The bilateral relations began when Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani visited Pakistan. The Emir’s visits continued from 1970’s to 1980’s, and during this time the Pakistani leader also visited Qatar. During the early stage of Pakistan and Qatar’s bilateral relations, the primary focus was on developing economic partnership. From that time onwards, there has been a continuous rise in bilateral trade.
During President Musharraf’s rule, bilateral trade had increased significantly. He had visited Qatar during 2005, and at that time the trade rose to $529.06 million. Qatar was also very supportive during the 2005 horrendous earthquakes. It provided Pakistan with relief goods that estimated upto $20million. It helped to set up multiple medical camps to help those in need.
In 2007, The Finance Minister of Qatar officially signed agreements and memoranda of understanding during his visit to Islamabad. These agreements valued upto $billion and were targeted at industrial and power projects. The two states signed three memoranda of understanding on trade and investment, tourism and interchange of financial intelligence.
The state of Qatar has long remained a good partner of Pakistan. After the PTI government has come into power, the bilateral ties between Pakistan and Qatar have peaked. Especially during the Qatar Crisis. Both countries remained steadfast in assisting each other during hard times, and mutually benefitting from the partnerships they made.
Pakistan remains hopeful that the bilateral ties continue to strengthen and that the economic cooperation flourishes as well.
Bilateral Investment Treaties
Both Qatar and Pakistan have signed the BIT agreement in 1999, which coexists with the OIC Investment Agreement 1981
As of right now, Pakistan remains firm in its decision to maintain close relations with countries of the Middle East, including Qatar. Pakistan’s policy focuses on developing political, religious, and cultural ties with Qatar.
From 2018 to 2020, there have been a total of four visits to Qatar. The foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has visited Qatar three times on the basis of bilateral and regional relations. The Prime Minister Imran Khan also visited Qatar in 2020 regarding bilateral ties.
Pakistan also remains hopeful in receiving financial assistance from Qatar. In June 2019, it received a $3billion investment from Qatar.
Visits were also made to Pakistan by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani during 2018, and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during 2019. Both visits were regarding bilateral and regional ties.
Pakistan has remained one of the first options for the GCC countries when in need of security. It is the same for Qatar, and there were 629 Pakistani armed forces located there in 2018.
Pakistan has also remained Qatar’s 13th biggest trading partner, and their bilateral trade volume is around $2billion dollars. Till now, Pakistan imports Qatar’s petrochemicals and LNG. On the other hand it exports a large sum of food exports into Qatar too.
There is also a high chance that Qatar could join the CPEC project and invest into SEZs through joint ventures.
Qatar’s growing success is no secret. From hosting the upcoming Football World Cup in 2022, to the ownership of Al Jazeera, and its positive involvement in various global issues it is clear that this country is on the quickest path of success.
Pakistan and Qatar have always had strong defense ties, and regarding the 2022 world cup there is a fair chance that Pakistan’s security assistance would be called upon. The Pakistani President Dr. Arif Alvi had offered the state of Qatar provision of armed forces and security during the course of the World Cup.
Falling out with the Saudi government, provided an immense need to secure good ties with Qatar. KSA expected Pakistan’s support in the Saudi-led coalition within Yemen.
Back when Qatar was Blockaded by its fellow Arab states, Pakistan was forced to pick sides once again and faced the ‘are you with us or against us’ dilemma, just like after 9/11. Since Pakistan was a long term ally of Saudi Arabia, it was expected for the state to side with Saudi Arabia and its supporting states against Qatar. The quartet that had been formed, consisting of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, all had cut off ties with Qatar. They expected the same from Pakistan, but the state made it clear that there was no specific position to be taken.
Instead, Pakistan had chosen to subdue the matter between Qatar and the states against it. It continued to help mediate the situation so that states could remove the blockade and resume their peaceful ties with Qatar
A common interest that Qatar and Pakistan share is their tie to the Taliban. Both countries have made a continuous effort to build strong and resourceful ties with the Taliban. Till now these two states have wielded a certain control over the Taliban. While Qatar has provided Taliban with a political platform and office in its country, Pakistan has provided it security intell and other support.
In 2013 the US had chosen Qatar to open a political office for the Taliban, and this provided a platform through which states could negotiate with the Taliban. This has been an opportunity for Qatar as well to mediate between Taliban and the US. But it doesn’t stop there, there is hope for Afghanistan’s brighter future if Qatar decides to invest there for developmental purposes.
The two countries, Qatar and Pakistan, have also been onboard with Turkey and Malaysia in attending summits to discuss any problems related to the Islamic world. The constantly developing ties with Qatar, poses a challenge to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia too.
Published in Global Affairs May Edition 2022