Pakistan's Imran Khan 'seeks stronger ties, lower gas price' in Qatar visit

Pakistan's Imran Khan 'seeks stronger ties, lower gas price' in Qatar visit
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is paying a two-day visit to Qatar.
2 min read
21 January, 2019
Khan is making a visit to Qatar [Getty]
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will begin a two-day visit to Qatar, where he will look to renegotiate a gas deal with the energy-rich Gulf state.

Khan is joined with Petroleum Minister Chaudhry Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Finance Minister Asad Umar, and will meet with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The two-day visit will see the leaders discuss issues of Pakistani expatriates in Qatar, with the prospect of more workers from the 197 million population country moving to work in Doha, according to Pakistani media

Qatar opened up a visa facilitation centre in December to speed-up the process with Doha promising to 100,000 jobs for Pakistanis, according to Dawn newspaper. This comes as other Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia have vowed to reduce the numbers of foreign labour, as part of their job repatriation policies.

Itrat Jafri, a senior beat reporter for the prime minister at Urdu-language newspaper Nawaiwaqt, told The New Arab that the visit by Khan will likely boost economic relations between Pakistan and Qatar.

"The main purpose of Khan's trip is to re-visit a gas purchase agreement between Pakistan and Qatar," he said.

"Pakistan is asking Qatar to lower the price of gas, and Khan is also looking to purchase gas on deferred payment."

He said that Islamabad is also looking to send more workers to Qatar and look for more investments in the port city of Gwadar, which has been heavily-financed by China.

Pakistan and Qatar have bolstered ties following a blockade on Doha from Gulf neighbours since 2017.

Khan will discuss the issue of the blockade with the emir during the visit, sources have told The New Arab, following earlier trips to the UAE and Saudi Arabia by the Pakistani prime minister.

Read also: Saudi prince gifts Pakistan's Imran Khan gold-plated Kalashnikov
Khan has made several visits to Qatar's arch-rivals, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, since taking office in last year, with both countries also promising financial support for the Pakistan government.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have traditionally been strong military and political allies, with a Pakistani general heading a Riyadh-led "Islamic NATO" force, known as the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.

Paul McLoughlin is a news editor at The New Arab. Follow him on Twitter: @PaullMcLoughlin