Qatar maintains a strategic location as a peninsula in the east of Arab bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s economy is largely based on its oil export as the country is blessed with major petroleum deposits and second largest natural gas reserves. While the political system comprises of constitutional monarchy, the country fully knowing its potential and importance upholds cordial relations with all states. However, with the changing dynamics in Gulf and Middle Eastern region, there is rift between important Gulf powers Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. In international politics this rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is referred as the second Arab Cold War, where Qatar supports revolutionary wave in Arab world while Saudi Arabia opposes it. Though Qatar is presently not engaged in any kind of active war, but simultaneously Saudi Arabia and Qatar are key allies of USA whereas US holds strong sanctions policy against Iran. So these prime countries are facing challenges within apart from constant threat by super power in the region. Qatar hosts largest US air base in the Middle East. Qatar being the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas is having bumpy relations with other Gulf Arab states who are strong supporters of tighter US sanctions on Iran. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and developing kinship with Iran which they consider it as regional antagonism while Qatar constantly denies such allegations. Some Gulf countries had cut trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 and that caused set back to Qatar economically but still out of these embargos Qatar has emerged through its soft power. 

Interestingly, Qatar is considered as economically viable and reliable state where we can see how Taliban and USA trusts Qatar for bringing peace in South Asia where Taliban were given official space at Doha and dialogue process was initiated in country among key stakeholders consent. Surely, the credit goes to successful foreign policy by Qatari leadership who envisions importance of diplomacy in long term associations. Recently, Qatari Emir visited Pakistan on a two days official visit. Apart from discussion on matters of bilateral interests, different MOU’S were signed in the areas of tourism, food security, defence cooperation, aviation, maritime affairs, higher education, investment, financial intelligence and anti-money laundering to check terror financing. Pakistan which is facing financial crises will surely get booster shot in its economy by the further investment of 3 billion dollars as announced by Qatar. Such investments will facilitate Pakistan to get out of bail packages by IMF.

While the security situation of Pakistan has improved rapidly and now the investors are showing interest for investments in Pakistan, we are required to sort out sectors which can provide robust upshots. Certainly, it’s a call for necessary homework prior to arrival of high-level delegates wherein frugality elevates are involved. It is important that foreign market is well studied before investment, what you can offer in return and what are one’s needs. As the world acknowledges Pakistan’s success story against terrorism and militancy, defence sector is one area in which Pakistan has state-of–the-art capabilities and its armed forces are ranked top-notch. Qatar prefers skilled and trained officers and men from Pakistan for the training of its personnel. After being diplomatically isolated in Gulf, since 2017 Qatar has significantly boosted its defence spending. It acquired 36 Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets from France and has also shown interests in Pakistan’s indigenously made JF-17 Thunder and Mushak aircrafts. Pakistan definitely has the potential to fulfil demands of Qatar in defence production sector as Qatar has spent some $30bn on acquirement of military hardware from different countries. Pakistan can take this strategic partnership with Qatar to next level. 

Next FIFA world cup is going to be held in Qatar and country has not only gusto in matchless quality footballs and sports goods produced at Sialkot, Pakistan but has also desired to have 100,000 skilled labourers from Pakistan. Already a number of Pakistanis are working in Gulf market but generally it’s a labour class and we find very little number of our men designated at managerial posts. India holds a strong IT market in Middle East and Gulf so Pakistan has to think for creating trained and skilled professionals apart from provision of higher education to its students. Tourism and hotel management is another growing industry where Pakistan can create space for its professionals in Gulf and West. With the arrival of Chinese investment via CPEC, demand for Pakistan’s maritime undertakings has increased manifolds. When Qatar was facing crisis for its oil exports in Gulf, Qatar Ports Management Company announced to launch a new shipping route between its Hamad Port and Pakistan’s premier Karachi Port to mitigate the impact of the trade embargo against Qatar by Saudi Arabia. Likewise Gwadar port holds due significance in coming future because of provision of sustainable trade channels in Indian Ocean where shortest route will be accessible to world economies. But for such prospective influxes Pakistan has to keep itself prepared for any kind of challenges at domestic and national level.

Such high level visits in recent past by Saudi, Malaysian, Chinese and Qatari leadership indicate Pakistan’s significant role in the region. But to maintain neutrality and following successful diplomacy when Pakistan is always tried to push towards isolation by certain powers, a balancing approach with vision is need of the hour.