Saudi succour

Picking the threads together, it is hoped that the distracted economy will soon be back on the tracks

May 01, 2024


There is a moment to cheer for Pakistan as the final IMF tranche of $1.1 billion has reached its coffers. This was coupled with the comprehensive package of support for the ailing economy from Saudi Arabia, which has evinced keen interest in buoying investment. Last but not least was an audience between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, which came close on the heels of a high-powered delegation’s visit to Pakistan. Picking the threads together, it is hoped that the distracted economy will soon be back on the tracks as Islamabad has vowed to go ahead with stringent structural reforms along with meaningful austerity measures.

An honest appraisal from the Prime Minister at the World Economic Forum simply reflected the introspection with which the country plans to move on. While rubbing shoulders with who’s who of the capitalist world, Sharif pointed out that Pakistan’s prime dilemma is its debt trap. He went on to elucidate that the power sector is in a shambles and there is an elite capture of the economy, obstructing adequate revenue generation coupled with leakages in the system. Apparently, that is why the country is off and on compelled to sign on the dotted lines with the international lenders which leads to stagnation and supra inflation.

Thus, the reiteration of Saudi succour has come at a critical time when the chips are down for Pakistan. The personal involvement of Royals in pouring in their money in projects as diverse as petro-chemical products, mineral extraction, corporate farming and industrial production has opened vistas of sustainability. Moreover, the Saudis’ renewed interest in Gwadar port and setting up of an oil refinery on the shores of Balochistan has inevitably incurred interest of other international investors in the economy. To further cement it in the institutional decorum is the SIFC, which is eyeing mega-projects with the Gulf states. These efforts on the economic plain necessitate continuity of policy and political stability. Time to walk the talk for Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2024.

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