Pakistan is currently battling with one of the world’s disastrous natural disasters as floods drown up one third of the cash-strapped South Asian country.
Qatar has expressed a strong interest in investing in Pakistan, particularly in the energy and airport infrastructure sectors, an official said.
The interest was echoed on Wednesday during a virtual meeting between Faisal bin Thani Al Thani, the head of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.
According to Ismail, the current Pakistani administration is implementing a number of structural reforms to encourage foreign investment in Pakistan. Hailing proposals from QIA, Ismail promised such moves in Pakistan would be fully supported and facilitated.
Reports had earlier claimed Qatari plan to administer Islamabad and Karachi airports after an alleged agreement reached during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to the Gulf state.
Pakistan’s State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said even profitable publicly traded companies in her home country are experiencing losses because the government is unable to manage the businesses.
“It is important to privatise them to maintain them as profitable institutions,” she said, adding that Doha has expressed keenness in investments in the South Asian nation.
She bemoaned that the electricity sector received more funding than defence during the most recent budget year due to “circular debt in the sector,” reports said.
Earlier this week, media reports citing sources alleged that Doha has rejected Pakistan’s investment proposal for a deposit of at least $2 billion. The reports also stated that the request has been modified by Islamabad in an effort to win the Gulf nation’s “favour”.
Qatar had reportedly rejected Miftah Ismail request for a deposit, the reports claimed. However, authorities have yet to publicly comment on the matter.
Following this move, Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq reportedly launched a different investment plan in an effort to reach an agreement.
This comes against a background of multiple conversations with authorities and an action plan forwarded to Islamabad by the Pakistani embassy in Qatar as a follow-up to Sharif’s two-day trip to Qatar last month.
According to the media’s anonymous sources, Ismail met with Qatar’s Finance Minister Ali bin Ahmad Al Kuwari on 22 August to place a formal request for a deposit from Doha. The discussion was held in private.
Reports also alleged that during his discussion with his Pakistani colleague, the Qatari minister of finance ‘expressed regret’ over the prospect of a Qatari deposit.
On 24 August, the sources suggested Ayaz Sadiq offered a different plan during the meeting.
Securing the purchase of liquified petroleum gas by Pakistan was high on the agenda during a meeting between Musadik Malik, Pakistan’s minister of state for petroleum, and Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister last month.
Both parties also addressed the prospect of getting back together and working together on LNG projects, reports said, though no further details were provided.
The topic of the potential purchasing of the airports in Islamabad and Karachi on a long-term concession basis hovered over the topics that were explored during the meeting between the Qatari and Pakistani side.
According to the QIA, reports claimed, “they will only be interested in the lease if it includes aeronautical revenues, which makes up a sizeable portion of the airport’s revenue.”
Reports also highlighted that QIA would be further interested in the agreement if Lahore Airport was included in the proposal.
“Pakistan’s Ministry of Aviation will send initial financial and operational data to QIA at the earliest,” local media reported.