Middle East is an increasingly important region for Pakistan’s foreign policy owing to the deep seated religious and cultural affinity, economic and defence cooperation and thepresence of large Pakistani diaspora in the region. Pakistan accords highest priority to its constitutionally obligated fraternal relations with the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East. Pakistan also maintains close consultation and dialogue with the Middle East countries on issues of mutual interest in regional and international organizations and enjoys their political support at international fora.
The Middle East region is singularly significant for Pakistan’s economy, serving as the primary source of energy imports and foreign remittances. Pakistani diaspora of around 4.5 million in the Middle East represents the entire spectrum of Pakistani society, ranging from business leaders, entrepreneurs, and white and blue-collar workers, to bankers and chartered accountants. The Gulf countries including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have contributed over 54 percent to overall Pakistan’s remittances.
The ongoing economic diversification and regional reconciliation in the Middle East offers important opportunities for enhanced economic engagement with Pakistan. Pakistan looks forward to enhanced trade and investment in priority sectors such as IT, corporate farming, minerals and energy. The Special Investment Council established by Pakistan facilitates and fast-tracks potential investment from the region. These countries also remain important partners in the humanitarian and development sector.
There is a great scope of cooperation between Pakistan and countries in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) in the areas of IT, energy, mining, tourism, banking and Financing, agriculture and skills development. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the GCC and Pakistan is expected to add further impetus to the trade relations.
Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have well-developed bilateral mechanisms to facilitate religious pilgrims who undertake visits to the religious sites there for Hajj and Umrah. Similarly, the Iraqi and Syrian cities of Najaf, Karbala and Damascus hold immense significance for Muslims in Pakistan for Ziarat.
Peace and stability in the Middle East region is an important priority for Pakistan which has always supported efforts for peaceful settlement of all disputes and conflicts in the region. It has always advocated resolution of complex problems through dialogue, diplomacy and reconciliation especially among countries of OIC.
Pakistan supports comprehensive political resolution of the Yemen crisis through peaceful means, in line with the UNSC and OIC resolutions. Similarly, the rapprochement in the GCC between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt (Al Ula accord in 2021) is welcomed by Pakistan. Pakistan supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and hopes for an end to violence, conflict, grave humanitarian, human rights and refugee crisis.
Pakistan believes that a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State, with the pre-June 1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, is the only just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the Palestine issue, in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions.