Pakistan’s prime minister hopes Qatar will increase investment in key sectors amid the economic crisis

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would like Qatar to increase its investment portfolio in its key economic sectors, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday during a meeting with Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, as the government actively pursues foreign investment in to meet financial challenges.

Pakistan has welcomed a number of foreign officials and business delegations in recent weeks, encouraging local partnerships and asking them to explore investment opportunities in various economic sectors.

A delegation of Saudi entrepreneurs, comprising senior representatives from nearly 35 companies, recently completed a visit to Pakistan during which they held several business meetings. Additionally, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met a group of Japanese industrialists, urging them to invest in Pakistan’s nascent electric car industry.

The country is also expecting a visit from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later this month, hoping it will bring in investments worth several billion dollars.

Al-Khulaifi arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on a one-day visit as special envoy of Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrehman bin Jassim Al Thani, the Foreign Ministry said in an earlier statement. He met with Sharif at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss bilateral investment and economic cooperation.

“The Prime Minister highlighted the important role of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and said that Pakistan would like Qatar to expand its investment portfolio in Pakistan in priority sectors,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

“To this end, the Special Investment Facilities Board (SIFC) would be able to provide rapid coordination.”

SIFC is a hybrid civil-military forum established by the government in June 2023 to accelerate economic development in key sectors, mainly from the Gulf countries.

Sharif said Pakistan was keen to transform its “excellent ties” with Qatar into a mutually beneficial, solid economic partnership.

“In this regard, the Prime Minister stressed that the two countries should continue to work together to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all spheres of mutual interest, especially trade and investment,” the PMO said.

Pakistan has expressed interest in Qatar’s information technology sector and sent its first delegation of IT specialists to Qatar in December last year.

Many countries in the Gulf region are diversifying their economies beyond oil and gas by investing in technology sectors, creating innovation hubs and developing digital infrastructure to support various industries.

This strategic shift includes a significant focus on adopting advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and cybersecurity to transform these countries into knowledge-based economies.

Qatar has also moved in this direction, investing in technology start-ups and engaging in organizing high-tech events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar has also been active in promoting peace in regions such as Afghanistan and, more recently, Gaza.

These issues play a key role in Pakistan’s diplomatic activities and both countries have discussed them in previous meetings.