ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the most popular foreign leader in Pakistan because he has raised bilateral relations to a new level, Pakistan’s Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
“Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took over, he has brought bilateral relations to a completely different level,” the minister said.
During his visit to Pakistan in February 2019, the crown prince told Prime Minister Imran Khan: “Suppose I am a Pakistani ambassador in Saudi Arabia.”
Chaudhry said the visit was “truly extraordinary and impressive. Prime Minister Imran Khan did not visit any country other than Saudi Arabia, and so too the crown prince himself visited Pakistan with a large delegation.”
The two countries have always enjoyed historic and diverse relations despite repeated changes in Pakistan’s political landscape.
Every Pakistani government has enjoyed close relations with the Kingdom, Chaudhry said, adding, “This is a person-to-person relationship, and Pakistan respects Saudi Arabia.”
He said Saudi Arabia had stood with Pakistan through the thick and thin, adding: “In all our challenges, the first country we went to was Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom was always there to help us. You can imagine from this the respect of the two countries towards one each other. “
Praising the vision of the crown prince in 2030, Chaudhry said the plan was not only beneficial for the Kingdom but for the entire Muslim world.
“Vision 2030 has two dimensions. One of them is Saudi Arabia’s domestic policy and another dimension is the Muslim world, about how we can avoid perceptions of extremism, “the minister said, adding that the concept of Vision 2030 is based on education, knowledge, innovation, technology and science.
“It’s about the cultural change that the crown prince wants to bring not only in Saudi Arabia but for the entire Muslim population, which is indeed the way forward,” Chaudhry said.
“Pakistan highly respects Vision 2030, and I believe this is actually a forward-looking agenda for Muslims around the world,” he added.
“In Pakistan, we have been through a torturous war against extremism, where we have suffered greatly. No one can understand better than us about the importance of getting rid of extremism. We need cultural change and adaptation from the modern world, especially in science and technology. This is clearly a fundamental element for progress and it is demonstrated in Vision 2030. “
During Chaudhry’s visit to Saudi Arabia last year, he met the crown prince and discussed cooperation in science and technology.
Chaudhry said in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were huge opportunities for the two countries to partner with each other.
“Pakistan has done wonders in the manufacturing of medical and protective equipment. “We want Saudi investment and cooperation in this matter to expand our capacity to produce medical equipment,” he added.
Chaudhry expressed his hope to increase bilateral cooperation in science and technology after the pandemic, especially precision agriculture, which uses satellites and drones to manage crops.
“We are far ahead of most other countries in precision agriculture, so we want to share our experience with Saudi Arabia,” he said.