Historically, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Qatar have enjoyed prosperously close relations based on mutual trust and regard. The two “brotherly countries” have built strong bilateral diplomatic relations since the early seventies. The governments of both countries continuously stay in touch and coordinate through official visits and global forums. The bilateral relations between the two are multifaceted and include various important fields of trade and development.
The road to healthy diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Qatar today was first established in 1973, and the initial establishment period lasted till 1999. During this time, both countries worked hard to create mutual understanding and explored possible opportunities that could lead to beneficial cooperation between them in multiple sectors. From then onwards, the visit by HH the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani in 1999 to Pakistan played a major part in the secondary establishment period that further strengthened the ties between both countries. During that visit, many agreements were signed in the fields of economy and politics that laid a basic foundation and opened the gates to a new era of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Qatar.
Finally, in 2015, a successful visit to Pakistan by HH the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, changed the course of bilateral relations in the fields of economy and energy. In the same year, it was agreed that the number of Pakistanis working in Qatar would be increased, with around 100,000 Pakistanis recruited to help with preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2022, among other projects. It was the same year when their Amir announced a $3 billion support to Pakistan in the form of deposits and direct investments that showed their trust in Pakistan’s economic power.
Following that, in 2016 and 2021, two long-term LNG supply deals with Qatar were signed, making Pakistan a major importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Bilateral relations were further nourished in the year 2017 when a direct shipping line was inaugurated to connect Hamad Port with Karachi Port. As a result, trade volume increased by 63% in 2018, reaching QR 9.5 billion. In the same year, 2018, an agreement was signed between the two countries that helped in the education sector of Pakistan, which became the largest beneficiary of Qatar’s initiative to educate 10 million children outside school. The “Lives and Livelihood Fund” aims to help the Pakistani government improve the situation of 39.2 million children under the age of five during the period 2019-2020.
Furthermore, it was announced in 2019 by the Foreign Minister of Qatar that “The Qatari-Pakistani economic partnership will amount to $9 billion. Qatar affirms its aspiration for further development in the relations between the two countries at all political, economic, sports, and cultural levels,”. During the same year, Pakistan and Qatar signed three MoUs on trade and investment and cooperation on financial intelligence and tourism.
In terms of trade and economics, Qatar’s exports to Pakistan totaled $1.34 billion in 2020, while Pakistan’s exports to Qatar totaled $187 million. According to statistics, during the last 20 years, the exports of Qatar to Pakistan have annually increased at a rate of 20.6%. On the other hand, for the last 20 years, the exports of Pakistan to Qatar have increased at an annualized rate of 9.36%.
Pakistan and Qatar share a common vision of world peace and stability in their regions while encouraging each other to contribute towards mutual benefits and the common interest of the countries. The various visits and official discussions are expected to bring positive changes, enhance bilateral relations and point in the right direction for future developments in both countries.