JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia has pledged that it will help Pakistan in resolving the energy crisis and appreciated the efforts for improvement in country’s relations with neighbouring India.

This came in a meeting of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on Monday wherein the two leaders discussed bilateral relations, situation in the region and international issues.

During the meeting that went beyond the scheduled time, the king told the prime minister that his country will extend full cooperation and assistance to resolve energy crisis in Pakistan, adding that the relevant Saudi minister will also visit Islamabad in this regard.

PM Raja was accompanied by Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Muhammad Naeem Khan and other officials while Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Ibrahim Abdul Aziz al-Ghadeer and other high officials represented the Saudi side.

At his asking the details on Pak-India relations, PM Raja told King Abdullah that the bilateral ties between the two neighbours were improving with the continuation of dialogue process. Appreciating this improvement and expressing his satisfaction, King Abdullah said that improved relations will be beneficial for the people of both the states.

The prime minister also briefed the king about measures Pakistan was taking for peace and progress in the region and Pakistan’s role in finding peaceful settlement of Afghan issue. Raja told him that he will visit Afghanistan on 19th of this month and meet with President Hamid Karzai to improve the bilateral relations and ensure regional security.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Raja Pervez especially mentioned the road map for building enhanced strategic dialogue between the two countries. He also apprised him about the progress in war against terror and situation in the Fata. The PM while discussing the question of food security in Pakistan asked the Saudi investors to invest in country’s agriculture sector.

PM Raja thanked King Abdullah and the Saudi government for extending help to Pakistan in the need of hour, especially during earthquakes and last year’s floods. The King said, “We are not taking any credit for this help and assistance, it was our duty to help our brothers and sisters in Pakistan in case of any natural calamity.”

The king said Pakistan was not a new friend and thanked Pakistan Diaspora who considered Saudi Arabia as their second home. The prime minister told the king that Pakistani people considered him leader of the Muslim Ummah.

The prime minister extended greetings to King Abdullah on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari and shared sorrow and grief over the passing away of former Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz. He also renewed his invitation to Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz to visit Pakistan which he accepted.

Later, addressing a reception hosted in his honour by the Pakistani community here at local hotel, the prime minister said the people are ultimate arbitrators, who have the right to choose their leaders in a democratic set up. He urged the political parties to present their programmes and let the people to decide. He said the PPP believed in democratic process and appointment of a consensus Chief Election Commission was a great contribution of the party.

Referring to Salala incident, the PM said his government opened Nato supplies in accordance with the parliament’s recommendations and did not open these for money. He said, “We want that Pakistan be a facilitator in the withdrawal of Nato forces by 2014 and wants an independent Afghanistan.”

PM Raja urged the expatriates to bring investment to Pakistan for different projects of power generation especially in solar energy to overcome energy crisis in the country. He assured that his government will provide maximum protection to the foreign investment and had taken a number of investment friendly policies.

Appreciating the contribution of the expatriates through their remittances, he said 1.5 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia are contributing a lot to the economic activities of Pakistan. He said the PPP has been making sincere efforts to give right of vote to these expatriates, but there is politics going on in this regard. He regretted that expatriates have not been allowed to contest elections.

He said it was his wish that after becoming prime minister his first visit should be to Saudi Arabia as it is the brother country and most trustworthy friend of Pakistan. He said performance of Umrah was a blessing of God for him.

King Abdullah pledges help on energy