Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed visits Islamabad as Imran Khan seeks a helping hand

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi visited Islamabad on Sunday for one-to-one talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is seeking Emirati help to avert a financial crisis.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed was making his first visit to Pakistan in 12 years as the UAE weighs billions of dollars in aid and investment for the country.

This is part of a series of investment/ loans that the Prime Minister is seeking from other Muslim nations, in an effort to stabilise the failing economy and devalued rupee.

Since his election, the value of the rupee has fallen significantly and in turn, has compounded the cost of doing business in the country.

However, the Abu Dhabi leader obliged Prime Minister Khan and said “My close relationship with Pakistan started at a very young age, during my childhood. And I’m lucky today to be in Pakistan in my first official foreign visit during 2019. My sincere wishes for success and prosperity to the government and people of Pakistan,” Sheikh Mohamed said.

“We spare no effort to promote the values of tolerance, dialogue, coexistence and co-operation in the face of various regional and international challenges.”

Mr Khan thanked the UAE for the generous balance of payment support of US$3 billion (Dh11bn) it has already announced, according to the joint statement released after the leaders’ meeting.

Pakistani officials have said $3.2bn more in deferred oil payments was under discussion, and plans for the UAE to help build an oil refinery had also reached their “final stage”, Pakistan’s information minister said on Sunday night.

Mr Khan said the UAE’s financial support showed its continued commitment and steadfast friendship to Pakistan over the years. He also welcomed UAE interest in investing in Pakistan’s oil and gas, logistics, ports and construction sectors, the joint statement said.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Khan have met three times in as many months as Islamabad seeks help to stave off a balance of payments crisis.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday’s visit was “testimony to the special nature of our brotherly relations”.

The importance of the relationship to Islamabad was underlined by the warm welcome given to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince.

Sheikh Mohamed was greeted with a guard of honour and 21-gun salute when he touched down at Nur Khan air base in Islamabad before Mr Khan took the wheel to personally drive him to a reception at Prime Minister House. The capital’s streets were hung with portraits of the Crown Prince.

In Pakistan, many political commentators have suggested that Imran Khan’s promise of a no debt Pakistan was a mere tool for election. And since his election has been dubbed ‘U-turn’ because of his broken promises and failure to hold up to the campaign promises.

Sheikh Mohamed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, left on Sunday nig