ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the US on Tuesday discussed the possibility of continuing economic relations days after Washington’s decision to withhold disbursements of the Coalition Support Fund which, according to Islamabad, is not aid.
This came as US Ambassador David Hale held a meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail.
Separately, Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki also met Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal and discussed bilateral commercial relations.
“During the meeting [of Ismail] with David Hale, matters relating to Pakistan-US economic cooperation were discussed,” according to a brief handout issued by the finance ministry after the meeting.
Sources said that Ismail also raised the issue of President Donald Trump’s New Year tweet that pushed the bilateral relations between the two countries to the lowest level since the Salala border post attack.
However, the bilateral meeting indicates that both the countries were still inclined to repair the damaged relations.
The US has withheld the release of foreign military financing aid and disbursements of the CSF.
Although Pakistan does not care much about the aid suspension, it would not take the issue of blockage of CSF disbursements lightly, according to finance ministry officials.
The officials said that Pakistan wanted the US to start disbursing the CSF money which was also important for it to meet the budgetary targets.
The finance ministry handout, meanwhile, stated that Hale informed the adviser about the forthcoming visit to Pakistan by the American Business Council (ABC) representatives. He said the ABC would look to enhance its presence in Pakistan in different economic spheres and forge stronger cooperation between business communities of the two countries.
Ismail welcomed the visit and said he would be looking forward to meeting the members of the visiting delegation, according to the handout.
Hale also felicitated Ismail on assuming responsibilities as PM’s adviser on finance. He wished him success in his tenure and assured of support for fortifying bilateral economic partnership.
Also, Minister of State for Finance Rana Afzal met the Saudi Arabian ambassador. Both the sides underlined the need for expanding the bilateral relations.
“The Saudi ambassador highlighted the issue of high business visa fee and called for lowering it for more frequent visits of the business delegations,” said Rana Afzal while talking to The Express Tribune. He said the Saudi ambassador also showed interest in investing in the halal food industry in Pakistan.
The minister of state for finance sought Saudi Arabian help in sending more skilled people to the kingdom as low-paid unskilled jobs have started shrinking after the reforms introduced by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.