During his visit, Pakistan and Bahrain signed two MoUs to enhance bilateral cooperation, reiterating the commitment to resolve international and regional issues through peace process.
FROM: SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Jan 01 - 14, 2007
The visit of Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to Pakistan last week has richly contributed to strengthening the close ties between the two brotherly Muslim countries. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had purposeful dialogue in many rounds of talks with the visiting crown prince as how to further promote trade and economic ties, including increased manpower export from Pakistan to Bahrain.
During his visit, Pakistan and Bahrain signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to enhance bilateral cooperation, reiterating the commitment to resolve international and regional issues through peace process. The two countries also committed themselves to explore new avenues of cooperation and intensify interaction in economic, defence, security areas and also start a process for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
These MoUs are meant to have constant contact between the Foreign Ministries of Pakistan and Bahrain and social development of their people. The MoU related to the Foreign Ministries provides that both sides will hold consultation on bilateral relations and have an exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. The consultations will be held annually, as mutually convenient, alternately in Islamabad and Manama. The agenda and date for the consultations will be decided by mutual agreement and if required, commissions, working groups and groups of experts may be formed.
The second MoU is about social development cooperation between the Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Social Development of Bahrain. Under this MoU, the two sides agreed to cooperate for exchange of studies and experience in policy making and progammes related to social development and social protection by making use of the participants, expertise. The two sides will also organize seminars, forums and exhibition in the fields of social protection and social development in each country.
Addressing a joint press conference after the talks, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Bahrain's Crown Prince expressed the resolve to further enhance multifaceted relationship between the two brotherly countries and increase collaboration in trade, economic, diplomatic and political fields. They said there is complete unanimity of views on major regional and international issues, and will continue their efforts for peace, economic development and to resolve issues through mutual dialogue.
Shaukat Aziz said both the countries enjoy historical relationship and that would be expanded in future. Bahrain is the centre of trade and Pakistan is giving special attention to promote its economic ties with GCC countries including Bahrain. He said both the countries are determined to work for peace and harmony, as they are peace-loving nations.
According to the Prime Minister the two MoUs signed by Pakistan and Bahrain will strengthen existing diplomatic relations and help formulate policies of mutual interest on international issues. Shaukat Aziz said that he updated the Crown Prince about the ongoing Pakistan India peace process and CBMs taken for the resolution of all outstanding issues including Kashmir for the durable and lasting peace in the region.
The Crown Prince welcomed the ongoing composite dialogue between Pakistan and India and said that all the issues should be resolved through dialogue. They also discussed international issues including situation in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan wishes a sable and peaceful Afghanistan and supports the reconstruction of the war ravaged country. Both the leaders said that the crisis in Lebanon should be resolved and the crisis in Iraq must be addressed according to the wishes of the local people.
On Iranian nuclear issue, the Bahraini Crown Prince said that every country has the right to possess the civilian nuclear technology, however, the nuclear weapons should be discouraged.
Shaukat Aziz said: "We have discussed the Free Trade Agreement and to further expand it to the GCC to achieve easy access to the Gulf markets and exchange views for the export of Pakistani defence products to Bahrain." Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad appreciated the economic policies of Pakistan and said thousands of Pakistanis are working in his country and contributing a lot to the development of Bahrain. He commended the intellectual and skilled manpower of Pakistan working in Bahrain and said they are valuable asset of his country.
Shaukat Aziz said the he had discussed with the Crown Prince to send more skilled manpower from Pakistan and in this connection the Minister of Labour will visit Bahrain to devise mechanism. Speaking at a banquet hosted in honour of Bahrain's Crown Prince, the Prime Minister said that there is an enormous potential for grater bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, joint business ventures in defence, culture and education and the Crown Prince's visit to Pakistan is a manifestation of the special bonds of brotherhood and friendship between the two countries.
He also deeply appreciated the generous assistance extended by the Kingdom of Bahrain to the victims of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Pakistan October last year. The Prime Minister, appreciating King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa's vision for progress and prosperity, said his sagacious leadership has made Bahrain an open, enlightened and pluralistic country and Pakistan complements the dedicated efforts being made in the Kingdom to empower women, promote the welfare of youth, and to create equal opportunities for all sections of society.
He said in Pakistan, the government has implemented broad based multi sectoral reforms that have re-positioned and revitalized Pakistan on the world stage and Pakistan and Bahrain are allies in confronting the spectre of terrorism.