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Mahathir, Imran pledge to boost trade, economic ties

November 23, 2018

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SITI Hasmah, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad have a laugh after the First Lady asked Mr Khan if she can hold his hand for the photograph.
SITI Hasmah, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad have a laugh after the First Lady asked Mr Khan if she can hold his hand for the photograph.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Malay­sia have vowed to strengthen their trade and economic relations.

According to a joint statement issued on the conclusion of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Malaysia on Wednesday, the two countries had decided to improve their bilateral economic and strategic ties, expand trade and investment and create favourable conditions for commerce and business in both countries.

It said the volume of trade would particularly be enhanced in palm oil, agricultural products, food retail, Halal products and automotive parts and cooperation would be improved in education, energy, science and technology and telecommunication.

PM Khan reached Kuala Lumpur on a two-day official visit on Tuesday. He visited the country on the invitation of his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

During his Malaysia visit, PM spells out his govt’s four-pronged strategy to pull Pakistan out of economic crunch

After the welcoming ceremony, the two prime ministers held a bilateral meeting during which Mr Khan invited the Malaysian prime minister to visit Pakistan.

During Mr Khan’s visit, the two countries also signed the Par­tial Visa Abolishment Agre­e­ment which will reinforce positive momentum in bilateral relationship by broadening contacts at the official level.

According to the joint statement, both Pakistan and Malaysia called for the resolution of the issues of Palestinians and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

On the Palestinian issue, the two countries agreed to contribute positively also at other forums, especially in the OIC Committee of Six on Palestine, of which Malaysia and Pakistan are members.

PM Khan briefed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on grave human rights situation in India-held Kashmir and in this regard referred to the Reports of UNOHCHR, Amnesty International, International People’s Tribunal and All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group, UK.

The two prime ministers also discussed the role of OIC Contact Group on Kashmir to highlight the issue.

Malaysian first lady

When PM Khan was wrapping up his visit to Malaysia on Wednesday, it became evident that the Pakistan cricket world cup-winning captain has fans all around the globe.

A video clip from a photo op shows the Malaysian first lady, Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, turning to Mr Khan and asking: “Prime minister, can I hold your hand?”

“Sure,” replied Mr Khan with a smile, prompting laughter from PM Mahathir Mohamad and those in the audience.

As Mr Khan holds her hand, nonagenarian Siti Hasmah is seen gleefully posing for the photo.

Greater collaboration

During discussions between officials of Pakistan and Malaysia during the visit, it was decided to explore greater collaboration between the two countries’ high-tech industries.

The Malaysian officials invited Pakistani companies to invest in Malaysia in both manufacturing and services sectors where the companies are able to leverage the country’s strategic location in expanding their investments into Asean and the Asia Pacific regions.

Likewise, the Pakistan side invited potential Malaysian companies to explore the possibility of investing in Special Economic Zones being established under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation and looked forward to the 13th Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) which will be convened in 2019 in Kuala Lumpur.

The Malaysian side invited Pakistanis to participate in the upcoming Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in 2019.

Pakistan also welcomed Malaysia’s participation in the upcoming Defence Expo IDEAS-2018.

The two sides reaffirmed the memorandum of understanding on the recruitment of Pakistani workers signed in Islamabad on Oct 20, 2003.

The Malaysian side took note of the massive counter-terrorism efforts that Pakistan has successfully undertaken in an effort to eliminate terrorism.

Reaffirming the Malaysia-Pakistan Closer Economic Partnership Agreement signed on Nov 8, 2007 in Kuala Lumpur and entered into force on Jan 1, 2008, Malaysia and Pakistan recognised the importance of regular discussions to strengthen the trade relationship in key sectors and addressing bilateral trade imbalance.

On the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) between Malaysia and Pakistan signed in November 2017, the Malaysian PM reiterated his country’s commitment to assist Pakistan in addressing its energy shortfall.

In this regard, PM Imran Khan welcomed Malaysia’s cooperation in LNG and other energy sectors, including hydroelectric and renewable resources.

The two prime ministers agreed on the need to enhance educational ties between Pakistan and Malaysia and said close cooperation on education and training were critical elements of the next phase of the relationship.

Pakistan community

Meanwhile, PM Khan again used the foreign soil to lash out at his political opponents during his visit to Malaysia.

Addressing members of the Pakistan community in Malaysia on Wednesday, he levelled allegations of corruption on former rulers.

It is for the second time that Mr Khan criticised opposition parties in Pakistan during his foreign visit. He lambasted previous governments and held them responsible for the country’s financial ills also during his recent visit to China.

Opposition leaders in the country expressed annoyance on the remarks made by the prime minister during his address in Malaysia.

The prime minister said in his address that the opposition parties had declared the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government failed regime. “They are waiting to see the new government fail from the day one,” he said, adding “they even did not allow me to deliver my first address in the National Assembly”.

“The opposition leaders are afraid because they know that as long as I am in power, they will be in danger and will behind the bar soon,” the prime minister said. He claimed that when the opposition leaders called for saving democracy, they were, in fact, trying to save themselves.

Mr Khan said his government would not give an NRO-like deal to those who were involved in corruption and would not spare them on the name of the charter of democracy. “We will throw each one of them in jail,” he added.

PM Khan reiterated his aim to follow the model of the state of Madina in order to fix Pakistan’s problems, announcing that his government would announce a poverty alleviation programme by the end of the week.

Talking about his government’s four-pronged strategy to pull Pakistan out of its prevailing economic crunch, he said the first step towards ridding the country of its chronic loan dependency was to increase its exports. He said if Malaysia with a population of 30 million had exports worth $220 billion, then why Pakistan with a population of 201m had exports worth $24bn.

He said boosting the country’s foreign remittances was the second priority of the government for which it was working on an incentive programme.

PM Khan emphasised the need for attracting investments, particularly from foreign businesses. He called upon overseas Pakistanis to invest in the country and vowed to facilitate them by improving the governance in the country.

He said in a bid to curb money laundering the government had signed memorandums of understandings with different countries under which details of money sent abroad illegally by Pakistanis could be obtained.

Talking about foreign loans, PM Khan said the government acquired loans from friendly countries in order to repay instalments of loans that were borrowed by former rulers. “We are trying to borrow a minimum amount of money from the International Monetary Fund,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2018

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