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APP80-23 ISLAMABAD: March 23 – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif shaking hands with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, at PM House. APP
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Amid the simmering Qatar crisis, Doha has asked Pakistan to play its role to defuse the row with fellow Gulf countries. Last month Saudi Arabia and its allies severed diplomatic ties with the tiny Gulf country and imposed a blockade over its alleged support for terrorism. Qatar has remained defiant and has vowed to end the crisis without compromising its sovereignty.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Tuesday, Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani briefed the  Pakistani leader on the current situation in the Gulf. It expects Pakistan to play a mediatory role between the sides involved being the sole Muslim country with nuclear weapons.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister had arrived in Islamabad earlier in the day on a short trip seeking Pakistan’s support to end the regional tension. Al-Thani met the PM and Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to discuss the latest situation.

Pakistan has thus far remained neutral in both crises: the Saudi-Iranian tiff and the Qatar dispute. Given the sectarian undertones of the first crisis and the delicate balancing needed in the second has put Pakistan in a difficult position.

PM Sharif told the visiting dignitary that Pakistan was concerned over the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and would play its role for a peaceful solution to the impasse.Sartaj Aziz assured the Qatari FM that General Raheel is not commanding troops against any Muslim country.

The Foreign Office denied the allegations and called them malicious attempts to create rifts in the comity of the Muslim nations.

Recently, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Riyadh and told Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz that Pakistan was committed to the Kingdom’s territorial integrity and safety of the two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. He had also hoped that the issue will be resolved amicably in the best interests of the Muslim World.

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Pakistan had earlier denied rumors that it will send 20,000 troops to Qatar following the footsteps of Turkey. The Foreign Office denied the allegations and called them malicious attempts to create rifts in the comity of the Muslim nations.

An official statement released after Sharif’s meeting with Al-Thanim, said the PM was appreciative of the efforts of Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabahin to find a solution to the current saga.

Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani was named by Sharif as a business partner but a joint investigation team – which submitted its report on the Panama Papers case to the Supreme Court this month could not interrogate the Qatari royal due to his unavailability.

The foreign minister of Qatar expressed his felicitations to the prime minister for the warm reception and reiterated Qatar’s desire to further important bilateral relations between the two countries,” the statement added.

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There was a speculation that the Qatari minister’s visit had something to do with Nawaz Sharif’s personal case in the Supreme Court.Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani was named by Sharif as a business partner but a joint investigation team – which submitted its report on the Panama Papers case to the Supreme Court this month could not interrogate the Qatari royal due to his unavailability.

Hence Nawaz all by himself is also in a catch-22, for he has strong personal ties with the royal families of Doha and Riyadh.

Islamabad will have to balance-off, for it enjoys healthy ties with many actors involved in the crisis, to include Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. This is one of the many foreign policy challenges that Pakistan has to grapple with as the conflagration looms large.

Pakistan to export edibles to Doha 

Qatar is a rich country having the potential to import over a billion dollar food items from Pakistan.  “In the upcoming Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which will be established with the help of China, proposals are under consideration to establish modernized and state of the art farm houses with the purpose to boost exports of live animals as well as of both beef and mutton manifold in years ahead,” said the official sources.

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Qatar has been supplied with edibles from Iran after the blockade that was imposed. Pakistan can use this opportunity to beef up its already strong ties with Doha without overtly putting weight behind one camp. Islamabad will have to balance-off, for it enjoys healthy ties with many actors involved in the crisis, to include Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. This is one of the many foreign policy challenges that Pakistan has to grapple with as the conflagration looms large.

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