Latest Pakistan News / ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani heads to Qatar on Monday to discuss Afghan peace efforts in the ultra-rich Gulf state where the Taliban and US officials have begun preliminary contacts.
Islamabad has officially billed Gilani’s three-day visit to Qatar as an opportunity to boost ties and maximise trade.
“He will meet among others the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said.
“The prime minister’s visit is aimed at opening new vistas for enhanced mutual cooperation and activating the existing structured mechanisms and institutional linkages,” he added.
“There are certain ideas and suggestions on Afghan reconciliation and when Prime Minister Gilani meets Qatar’s leadership, these will certainly come under discussion,” a senior Pakistani official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The Americans have been briefing us on all developments aimed at pushing forward the peace process in Afghanistan and we have clearly told them that Islamabad strictly adheres to a policy of non-interference,” he added.
Asked how Pakistan viewed the Taliban’s office in Qatar, the official said: “now they have an address and all those wanting peace can have a contact.”
APP adds: Prime Minister Gilani is arriving here on a three-day official visit aimed at strengthening ties with the Gulf state in multiple areas including import of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to meet the country’s energy demands.
He will also discuss with the Qatari leadership the issue of finalization of transnational formalities to import LNG at the earliest, a Foreign Office official said.
Pakistan is interested in importing 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar that produces 77 million tonnes per annum of LNG. The imported LNG will be initially provided to the power houses in the country to generate 2,500 megawatt electricity.
The two governments are likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and Qatar’s Ministry of Energy.
The official said the prime minister will take up the matter of absorbing Pakistani skilled labour in Qatar. The demand of two million work force is anticipated for Qatar’s various infrastructure projects for holding FIFA 2022 World Cup in Doha, he said.
Gilani will hold separate meetings with the Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Diar Real Estate Investors and the representatives of Qatari Business Association.
He will address the Pakistani community living in Qatar and attend a prize distribution ceremony at Pakistan Education Centre. About 87,000 Pakistanis comprise 33 percent of the Qatar’s population.
Pakistan’s exports to Qatar mainly comprise food and agriculture products dominated by rice and meat, while the imports are petrochemicals. The remittances from Qatar increased by US $ 354 million in 2010 as compared to US $ 339.51 million in 2009.
Pakistan offers one seat each in M.B.B.S, B.D.S (Dentistry), B.Sc (engineering) and B.Pharmacy to Qatari students annually under Technical Assistance Programme.