(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's Minister for Interior, Planning, Development, and Reforms, has said that his country wants to increase bilateral co-operation with Qatar, especially in the fields of economy, education and security.
The Pakistani minister told Community, 'I was invited by the Government of Qatar to attend a security conference. I met the Prime Minister of Qatar, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. It was a very good meeting with him. We discussed bilateral issues related to security, economy and education.
'Pakistan has long been facing the menace of terrorism. There have been no international sports in our country for the last eight years. However, the situation in Pakistan has improved and international sporting events are back in our country. Qatar is going to hold FIFA World Cup in 2022. We shared our experience with Qatar on improving security for sporting events. I also got a chance to learn about how good the security is in Qatar. We look forward to bilateral co-operation on security in future, Iqbal said.
The Pakistani minister added, 'I also discussed with the prime minister about increasing bilateral co-operation in economy and education sectors. HE the Prime Minister showed his interest in furthering relations with Pakistan. Our recent agreement with Qatar to get LNG has been a great success. We are able to generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity though the LNG at very low costs.
He noted, 'HE the Prime Minister of Qatar has appreciated the role that the Pakistani community has been playing in the development of Qatar. His positive views on Pakistan community were very encouraging for me.
Earlier in his interaction with the Pakistani expatriate community at the embassy, the minister said, 'HE the Prime Minister of Qatar told me that there are about 122,000 Pakistanis living in Qatar. The Qatari government has been planning to increase the numbers in the coming days. The positive image of Pakistani expatriates has been helping in further cementing the long-standing relations we have with Qatar.
Responding to a question from a community member, the Pakistani minister said, 'It is a good gesture from the Government of Qatar to provide on-arrival visas to Pakistanis. The government of Pakistan has also been working to reciprocate and extend similar kind of travel facilities to Qatari nationals.
Responding to another question, the minister said that overseas Pakistanis are an asset for their country. He added that the government of Pakistan has been working on starting a housing project in Islamabad, specifically for overseas Pakistanis. He said that his ministry has also been working on easing travel restrictions for professionals working in the Gulf countries.
The Pakistani minister said that the government of Pakistan has made 'extraordinary achievements in different sectors, especially in counter-terrorism, energy and economy. He said that his government has been successful in curbing militancy and the number of terrorist attacks has reduced to almost zero.
Iqbal said that restoration of peace has led to the revival of the national economy and that major investments are being made in the infrastructure sector in Pakistan. He noted that the project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was going to be a game changer for his country.
Talking about energy, the minister said that since 2013, his government has added 10,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. This has resulted in notable decrease in the amount of load shedding in the country.
Adeel Akbar, member of Pakistan Arts Society in Qatar, said, 'It was very good to have a federal minister from Pakistan interact with us. Pakistani ambassador Shahzad Ahmed invited a good number of expatriates as the minister wanted to meet them.
Akbar said, 'The expatriates asked many questions of the minister and extended multiple suggestions to him to further cement the bilateral ties with Qatar. The minister spent almost an hour with us and answered all of our questions and noted down our suggestions.