Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday claimed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had squandered an opportunity from the Saudi Arabian government to launch several projects in Pakistan through grants, soft loans and investment, worsening the country’s economic crisis.
Addressing the passing-out parade of the Specialized Training Program (STP) batch of the National Police Academy (NPA), he lamented that the previous government had ignored the projects offered by Saudi Arabia, while he had revived them within 48 hours. “Saudi Crown Prime Mohammad bin Salman will come to Pakistan soon for $9 to $10 billion investment in oil refinery,” he said, adding MBS had also expressed willingness—during a meeting between the two earlier this week—to support development projects in Pakistan. “He [crown prince] was ready to do anything for [betterment of] people of Pakistan,” he added.
“Earlier this year, a team from the Saudi Development Fund visited Pakistan. During their meeting with me, they complained about delays in projects in Pakistan caused by the previous government,” he said, regretting one of the stalled projects had been a hospital, which the PTI government had not availed fearing prosecution by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
“The hospital was to be completed within six months and some more such projects were to be executed on soft loans but they were kept in cupboards,” he said, adding he had requested the SDF team to stay for another two days in Pakistan and sanctioned the stalled projects within that time. “It was very embarrassing. But I asked for some time and got approvals for all the delayed projects within 48 hours,” he said.
According to Sharif, he had apologized for the delays during his meeting with the crown prince. “We are like one family and I am ready to do everything … these were his words. The Saudi prince also told us to work on projects and to facilitate them without any worries,” he added.
Regretting that Pakistan’s ties with friendly nations had suffered during the PTI’s tenure, he said he was working to revive them. When Prince Salman visits Pakistan, he said, “I want all of you to welcome him warmly because he comes from a brotherly country.”
Similarly, he said, he would soon visit “all-weather friend” China, which had always stood by Pakistan. He also claimed that the government was working to restore ties with the U.S.
During his speech, the premier appreciated the sacrifices rendered by police in protecting the country from terrorism and crime, and urged officials to make the counter-terrorism department of Islamabad an example for other provinces. He also discussed Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to tackle devastation of floods, saying hundreds of billions of rupees were being arranged to fund rehabilitation through international avenues.