Beyond the Bounds of Energy

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Prime Minister of Pakistan expressed gratitude to the Amir of Qatar for always standing by Pakistan and referred to the help extended by his country in overcoming the energy crisis in Pakistan. From the very beginning, the strategic significance of Pakistan and Qatar’s possession of huge oil and natural gas reserves, and its expanding macro-economy have brought the two closers together based on their mutual economic and strategic interests as well. Pakistan has always tried to maintain a balanced foreign policy in the gulf regional political dynamics keeping in view its interest but it has been tough and challenging. Pakistan has been striving to broaden its portfolio of alliances and economic opportunities, especially to resolve its economic woes. It is in desperate need of gas. Despite obstacles set by the US ahead of the Iranian gas line to Pakistan, Islamabad still insists on importing gas from the Islamic Republic. But it has turned to Qatar for a short-term solution as the US pressures continue on the Pakistani leaders. No doubt, Qatar holds a significant place in Pakistan’s foreign policy but the decision-makers in Islamabad have to view Doha as more than just an LNG exporter. Tiny Qatar has assumed a strategic dimension that defies the old traditional thinking of size and population. Pakistan can widen the scope of its relationship with Qatar by extending the economic partnership into a long-term strategic relationship. In the last few years, Pakistan’s policy has been to broaden its strategic engagement with multiple actors in various regions including China, Russia, and Turkey rather than limiting it only to its traditional allies in the Arabian Peninsula. In this regard, Qatar can also be taken into the picture. Doha is interested as it seeks to increase its influence in Pakistan as the Muslim world’s second-most populous country and only nuclear state, while Pakistan can also benefit from deepening ties with Qatar. Pakistan and Qatar can use the economic forum to further strengthen their ties and collectively achieve their respective economic and strategic objectives. In this regard, improving ties with Qatar provides Pakistan an opportunity to make itself relevant again within the Gulf as well as a chance to bring in much-needed foreign investment.

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