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Qatar Emir’s liberal investment in Pakistan, a plan to build a base in Asia, amid blockade in the MENA region

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Qatar’s recent announcement of investing $3 billion in Pakistani economy has been analysed by Cornerstone Global Associates, a London-based strategy and management consultancy. The consultancy brought out a report presenting a summary of the geopolitical implications of the proposed investments in Pakistan and assessment of Qatar’s ability to fulfill it commitment.

Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during his recent visit to Pakistan earlier this month, agreed to invest billions of dollars in Islamabad to boost its food, agriculture, and energy sector, including LNG and LPG fields and production of oil and natural gas. The latest announcement brings Doha’s cash total cash injection in Pakistani economy to $9billion.

Two things that need to be highlighted to get to the key agenda of the plan are – why Pakistan and why now?

Why has Qatar specifically developed a soft-corner for Pakistan while there are so many nations in the Middle East region, including Turkey, which need economic assistance and funds? More importantly, is Qatar capable of taking such a financial load. In August 2018, Qatar pledging to invest USD 15 billion in Turkey after the Turkish lira significantly dropped in the market. The investment included providing the Turkish Central Bank with a $3 billion currency swap. Except for the first slot of investment of $3 billion, rest of the $12 billion investment has not reached Turkey. Turkish figures have shown that Qatari investors have pulled out $790 million from the Istanbul Stock Exchange, which has brought Qatari holdings down by 31 per cent. The consultancy report raises a pertinent point that Qatar, which was‘unable to fulfil its previous investment pledges, including to Turkey, willit be able to fulfil its pledges to Pakistan’. Though the chances of it seem too bleak.

Now coming to another point, why is Qatar interested in investing huge sum of money in Pakistan now, while the country’s Premier Imran Khan has been asking for aid from nations and international organisations for few years.

For a change, this time Qatar is not the one calling the shots. To invest in Pakistan is a part of a bigger plan laid out by Turkey to make Pakistan part of an Islamic alliance. Turkey is trying to establish a chain of Muslim brotherhood’s base from Asia to Europe.

Qatar wants to build a strong alliance with Pakistan before it becomes part of the Saudi camp as in February 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman signed investment agreements worth $20 billion with Pakistan.

The report revealed that Qatar, a safe haven for Afghanistan Taliban leadership, would gain greater influence in the region, along with Turkey if this alliance is formed. The report said, “Turkey will use this as a bargaining tool in its deteriorating relationship with the United States.”

The report added, “Qatar has been trying to exert political influence on countries by pledging substantial investments. Qatar’s foreign investment strategy in Muslim countries, in particular, has focused on creating a political alliance that would serve its own Islamic alliance, together with Turkey.”

The report further stated, “The price that Qatar would expect from Pakistan is for the latter to join the Turkish-Qatari axis, which Qatar and Turkey see as a counter to the Saudi-led alliance. This may dent Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and ultimately affect the Saudi pledge.

It is also going to strain Pakistan-US relationship.

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