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POLITICS & POLICY MAHATHIR VISITS PAKISTAN
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ENVIRONMENT THE INDUS RIVER

 

MAHATHIR VISITS PAKISTAN

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The two leaders had covered a whole spectrum of economy, including trade and investment

 

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Islamabad

Oct 28 - Nov 03, 2002

 

The visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohammad to Pakistan and extensive discussions with President Pervez Musharraf will go a long way in strengthening the bonds of friendship and economic relations between the two countries. This urge of further improving the relations, especially in the economic field, was expressed by both the leaders in their joint Press Conference in Islamabad on Friday last.

Welcoming the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, an outstanding leader of the Islamic World, President Musharraf paid tribute to his bold and forthright approach towards world issues and his sagacity and statesmanship to develop Malaysia into a modern economic power of the Islamic world. He said Malaysia and Pakistan were bound together by religious, cultural and economic bonds and "we are determined to further cementing these ties." This visit would enhance existing fraternal economic ties and cooperation in various others fields of mutual bilateral interests, he added.

Dr. Mahathir praised the economic reforms introduced by the Government of Pakistan which had stabilized the economy, expanded country's earnings besides creating tremendous creditability for the country. He assured that Malaysian government as well as investors will fully contribute to the development activities in Pakistan to the mutual benefit of the two countries. In his talks with President Musharraf various areas were identified for increasing the trade relations between the two countries and rectifying the trade conference with Pakistan, he added.

In their discussion, the two leaders had covered a whole spectrum of economy, including trade and investment, and collaboration in information technology, construction and biotechnology, particularly focusing on development, with the confidence that bilateral relations would be further cemented in the political sphere. From Pakistan's point of view, attention was hopefully focused on the urgency of rectification of trade imbalance between the two countries, the balance remaining heavily tilted in favour of Malaysia.

Viewed in the inspiring perspective of Malaysia's great successes on the economic front, under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Mahathir, and its special approach to friendly co-operation with Pakistan for effective solution to some of their major problems, the thrust will certainly open up immense possibilities as they move forward together on the path of progress and prosperity over the years to come. There have been several instances of joint initiatives in that direction during the recent years, and these were largely inspired by the ideal approach of enlightened self-interest on both sides. This is one characteristic feature of the relationship between the proceed apace with confidence in revitalizing its economy by pursuing the Malaysian model of sustained economic growth, suited to the predominantly agricultural countries in today's developing world, pulsating with powerful ideas of catching up fast with the industrial and technological development in the advanced countries.

Mention may also be made, in this regard, of the signing of an agreement between Felda Group of Malaysia and Westbury Pakistan for the establishment of a liquid cargo terminal at Port Qasim on BOT basis. The liquid cargo terminal is a joint venture between Pakistan and Malaysia, to provide facilities for handling of vessels carrying bulk liquid products, particularly edible oils and molasses. It may be mentioned that Pakistan meets 90 per cent of its edible oil requirements from Malaysia, and Port Qasim handles nearly 90 per cent of the total import of edible oils in Pakistan. The proposed terminal with a capacity to berth tankers up to 35000 deadweight tons, along with exclusive berthing facilities for edible oil and molasses tankers, will be seen as benefiting both the countries with prospects of further expansion of trade. Serving as a model of private-public partnership for the development of Malaysian economy, it should inspire Pakistan to emulate the example. Notable, is also the counter trade agreement between Jawala Corporation of Malaysia and Global Oil & Commodities (Pvt) Ltd. It provides for export of Malaysian palm oil worth US$50 million to Pakistan in exchange for the supply of cotton yarn, rice, fruits and services. An idea of the difference the accord will mean to both sides may be had from the fact that Pakistani companies import about 200,000 tons of palm oil per year from various countries, while exporting Pakistani yarn in large volumes. Counter trade having lately emerged as a supplement to bilateral trade, will thus be seen as channeling external trade in a manner that helps balance the exchange to a considerable extent. Last, but certainly not the least, reference may also be made to the inauguration of the Liberty power plant by the Malaysian Prime Minister during his visit. Initiated at Daharki in Sindh in 1995, the plant, which ensures continuous and reliable supply of the much needed energy from use of abandoned indigenous fossil fuel with in house treatment, serves as yet another instance of the purposeful and mutually gainful development partnership between Pakistan and Malaysia.

During his press conference, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, well known for his bold views, also touched the problems facing Muslim World. He said that Muslim countries were major oil producer of the world and they could use it as their weapon to resist blackmail of big power and to influence international issues facing the Muslim World. Muslim countries if united and combined, can control supply of oil of the whole world, he said recalling that oil producing Muslim countries had effectively used this weapon in the past to mould the world opinion. Commenting on the theory of clash of civilization, Dr. Mahathir regretted that the terrorists were linked to the religion. He said that terrorism in Ireland has never been called as catholic terrorism or in Japan by a cult as Budhist terrorism. It was very unfortunate that an act of terrorism, if committed by a Muslim, was branded as Islamic terrorism, he added, advising the Muslim states to focus on economic and technological development and demonstrate to the world that Muslims were equally capable people.