Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, announced on Monday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged to invest up to $50 billion in various sectors across Pakistan over the next two to five years.
The investment is part of the newly formed Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which aims to streamline investments from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, particularly Saudi Arabia.
This announcement comes in the wake of recent dialogues that Pakistan’s army chief, General Asim Munir, reportedly conducted with business representatives in Karachi and Lahore, where the country’s economic prospects were discussed. The exact details of these meetings remain undisclosed.
Facing economic hurdles, the Pakistani government is working to encourage substantial investments from friendly nations, aligning these influxes with ongoing domestic economic reforms. Earlier in July, Pakistan secured a three-billion-dollar standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a move followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE depositing $2 billion and $1 billion respectively in Pakistan’s central bank to bolster the nation’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
While Kakar remained non-committal about the specific projects Riyadh is contemplating for investment, recent developments indicate a potential collaboration. Last month, Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) expressed willingness to involve Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund in the Reko Diq project in Balochistan, an area renowned for its substantial untapped copper and gold deposits.
However, the Reko Diq deal has stirred apprehension amongst local Baloch groups. The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a coalition of Baloch armed groups, openly expressed their reservations regarding foreign investments in the region. Specifically concerning the Reko Diq project, BRAS warned Barrick Gold of potential severe repercussions, stating their resolve to safeguard Balochistan’s resources.
In a similar vein, the BLA Commander-in-Chief, Basheer Zeb Baloch, has recently called upon various nations, including those from the Arab world, Canada, and the European Union, to recognize the Baloch nation’s opposition to the exploitation of Balochistan’s resources. In a video message, he asserted the Baloch people’s readiness to protect their homeland and cultural identity, cautioning that collaborative efforts perceived as harmful to Baloch resources or identity will be met with opposition. He sternly noted, “Any investment in Balochistan will be wasteful,” hinting at a firm resistance against foreign investments perceived to be detrimental to the Baloch populace.