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July 24, 2019
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The Doha Islamabad alliance, taking shape!

Pakistan is aiming to reclaim its position globally, which was partially lost during the last ten years. With an aggressive and focused foreign policy, Pakistan has considerably succeeded in reaching out and connecting with friends globally.

After successful visits to KSA, UAE, China, Malaysia, and Turkey, Prime Mister Imran Khan concluded a two day visit to Qatar with hopes for enhancing, and strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation. In the meeting with Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hammad Al Thani, PM Imran Khan discussed issues and opportunities of reciprocal interest. Prior to the PM’s visit to Qatar, Doha has shown interest in investing in the food, agriculture, livestock, aviation, maritime, and shipping in addition to oil and gas.

Furthermore, Pakistan was seeking LNG price review, the possibilities of deferred LNG payments for three years, and skilled and semi-skilled labor mobility opportunities (100,000 jobs in Qatar). But what Pakistan and Qatar can really gain from this alliance?

Qatar has a history of being faced with mounting challenges and conquering them. On June 5, 2017, Arab Quartet, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain initiated Qatar boycott accusing the country of supporting “extremism.”

It was expected that Qatar will yield to the pressure on its economy, development, and growth. On the contrary, Qatar evolved as a nation with a focused foreign policy, opening to the world and independent from its neighbors. Now Qatar has more $300 billion investment in multiple sectors globally, adding on to its significance in the world. Qatar offered a unique business-to-business model and one window solution, which played a critical role in its development and growth.

After the Gulf Council Corporate Crisis Qatar has shown a sustainable economic growth of 3% annually in last year, which is expected to accelerate in 2019. According to IMF, Qatar’s exports were recorded as $75.9 billion in 2018 and are expected to exceed $76.2 billion in 2019.

On the other hand, Pakistan, the 2nd most populated Muslim nation, is passing through one of the most challenging times, economically, and politically, but it is still regarded as the strength of the Muslim Ummah. It shoulders the responsibility of being the only Muslim nuclear power. Pakistan army is one of the leading armed forces in the world. CPEC is opening a new horizon of opportunities. To actualize the true potential of these opportunities, a dedicated effort is being made to ensure peace in the country.

In 2018 Pakistan and Qatar had a positive trade balance where exports to Qatar has increased by 44% and imports from Qatar has increased to 75%, showing the grounded and strong relationship between the two nations.

Moreover, in Gulf Council Corporate Crisis Pakistan has successfully maintained a neutral position. The decision of being neutral was not solely based on diplomatic reasons. It was a rational decision in accordance with the Pakistan complex sectarian canvas.

In the past, Pakistan had offered to mediate between the Gulf Council Corporate Crisis stakeholders, but with limited success. The resolution of the Gulf Council Corporate Crisis is pivotal in strengthening the whole region. A 364 km-long pipeline still transfers approximately 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day to the UAE, which has increased UAE interest in the mediation process.

Pakistan enjoys the trust of all the stakeholders and can play a vital role in resolving the Gulf Council Corporate Crisis, but for that, it has to strengthen its geopolitical position. On the diplomatic front, the Pakistan government has adopted an aggressive policy, which is rewarding in multiple ways. Pakistan is reaching out and connecting with the world, including the Arabian Peninsula. Friendly relations with China, Turkey, Malaysia, and Russia can play a critical role in the mediation process.

Pakistan can gain a lot from Doha-Islamabad alliance and outweigh the benefits achieved from the relations in the past. Apart from the investment, import, and export prospects, there is a lot to learn and adapt from the Qatar development model. Understanding how Qatar has successfully attracted foreign investment in a seeming uncongenial situation can be the key to our future development and success.

In addition to that, only understanding and replicating the model cannot yield the desired results unless it is backed up by strategic planning, policy-making, and implementation. It is a fact that the resolution of the Gulf Council Corporate Crisis will open a new window of opportunity to all stakeholders involved.