ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain has called for translating the political goodwill and fraternal bonds existing between Pakistan and Bahrain into a strong economic and trade partnership to the benefit of the people of the two countries.

During a meeting with King of Bahrain Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the Presidency on Wednesday, Mr Hussain said Pakistan attached great importance to its close and fraternal ties with Bahrain and desired to consolidate and strengthen them in diverse fields.

He said Bahraini investors and businessmen should avail themselves of the investment opportunities and incentive packages offered by the government for investment in Pakistan in diverse areas, including energy, agriculture, livestock and textiles.

The president said Pakistan would welcome Bahraini investments in major projects in the fields of energy, downstream oil industry, port development, mining and minerals, infrastructure, banking and financial sectors.

He said Pakistan had keen interest in concluding a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council and sought Bahrain’s support in its early conclusion.

The agreement would pave the way for increased commercial activity between Pakistan and the Gulf countries, he added.

Mr Hussain said that a large number of Pakistanis who were living and working in Bahrain served as a bridge between the two countries and played a positive role in the development of Bahrain. Pakistan has skilled manpower that can play a role in different economic sectors of Bahrain.

King Hamad said Pakistan was like a second home to him.

Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif called on King Hamad and discussed with him matters of cooperation in defence and defence training and in the field of education.

They also discussed cooperation in the field of defence production.

The king appreciated the capacity of Pakistan’s defence industry.

Khawaja Asif said Pakistan faced a lot of difficulties during the war on terror and rendered unprecedented sacrifices. “We have not only lost our brave and valiant soldiers in the line of duty but civilian population has also suffered immense causalities.

“Pakistan believes in regional stability and peace in Afghanistan. We are also keen on supporting Afghanistan and strongly believe that it is in the interest of the region.”

Bahrain acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror and its role in regional stability.

Adviser to National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also called on the king.

During the meeting, King Hamad said that bonds of love and amity between Bahrain and Pakistan were deep rooted in “our culture and history”.

“Although we are new countries we have been trading partners for 7,000 years when the Indus Valley civilisation had trade with Dilmun civilisation,” he said.

The king said that it was easy to translate the political goodwill into effective economic and trade relations. He expressed the desire for enhancing trade and investment which would lead to tangible dividends for the progress and prosperity of the people of the two countries.

He also shared with Mr Aziz his views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.Mr Aziz emphasised the importance the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attached to relations with Bahrain and briefed the king on priorities of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Also on Wednesday, King Hamad visited the Joint Staff Headquarters where he was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, the Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt were present on the occasion.

During the meeting, the two sides pledged to enhance military cooperation.

The king praised Pakistan’s military for its valour and sacrifices in defence of the motherland and its professionalism, quality of training and commitment.

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