Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have agreed to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost cooperation in the field of parliamentary affairs and foster high-level parliamentary exchanges.
“A draft for this open-ended MoU will be shortly prepared by the two countries,” said Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, said after holding talks with Shoura chief Abdullah A. Al-Asheikh here on Monday.
Sadiq, in an exclusive interview with Arab News, stressed the need and the desire for cooperation between the 150-member Shoura Council and the Pakistan’s National Assembly, which is an important component of the Saudi-Pakistani strategic partnership. Pakistani Ambassador M. Naeem Khan and Deputy Mission Chief Khayam Akbar were also present during the interview.
Referring to his wide-ranging talks with Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz, second deputy premier, and Shoura chief Al-Asheikh, the Pakistani speaker said: “Both sides have agreed to expand friendly exchanges, share experiences and learn from each other’s experience, as the two legislative bodies have different specialized panels including a committee on Kashmir at the National Assembly of Pakistan.”
He pointed out that Al-Asheikh is scheduled to visit Pakistan on December 8, when talks will cover parliamentary affairs, investment, education, health and technical training, among others. He also appreciated the gesture of the Shoura chief, who had offered to give world-class equipment including program, which will help make the Pakistani assembly a complete online (paperless) entity.
Hailing the robust growth of the bilateral relations in the past several decades, Sadiq called on Saudi businessmen to promote commercial ties and invest in Pakistan. He said that he has had fruitful talks with Crown Prince Salman and Prince Muqrin in which he requested them to solve the problems of a few leftover Pakistani workers, who could not legalize their status during the amnesty period.
Referring to his talks with senior Saudi officials, Sadiq said: “I discussed many serious issues including the need to regularize and legalize the remaining illegal Pakistani workers among others. Crown Prince Salman agreed to refer the issue of Pakistani workers to the departments concerned.”
He also appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan embassy, which did a “commendable job” and managed to regularize 800,000 illegal workers with the help of 75 focal points throughout the Kingdom. Asked about the potential areas of cooperation, Sadiq said the Kingdom and Pakistan should explore the possibility of cooperation in energy sector.

“Food security, agriculture and vocational training are other areas in which the two sides can intensively work together,” said the Pakistani official, while calling on his compatriots to remit money through banks and invest in their homeland.
On regional issues, he said that Pakistan has always been committed to hold peace talks with Taleban and ensure peace and security in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. “We are equally serious about working with other countries including India on all issues including the core issue of Kashmir,” said Sadiq.
He also spoke about the election of local bodies in Pakistan. He, however, did not comment, when asked about the tainted members of the Pakistani National Assembly, who have been disqualified so far.
To a question on the future of Pakistan, where violence is a recurrent problem, Sadiq said: “The future of Pakistan is very bright, we have reached the bottom and we have to turnaround now. We are not going to leave Pakistan, and we resolve to make it a beautiful country.”
Sadiq’s entourage includes nine other senior parliamentarians representing various political parties. Sadiq, who is basically from the ruling PML-N, is the 19th speaker of the Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.

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