ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has said that Pakistan and the African countries besides extending cooperation in trade and security to each other should also collaborate in addressing common challenges of poverty and illiteracy.
Speaking at the inaugural session of two-day ‘Engage Africa Conference’ at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the president stressed that governments needed to adopt a people-centric approach in security-related strategy as peace had a specific link with poverty elimination.
He said people in misery looked for opportunities and crossed borders to be safe; therefore, the world had a responsibility to give both peace and economic prosperity a chance.
Dr Alvi said that despite continuing exploitation even after the end of colonialism, it was important at global level to encourage trade partnerships for the mutual benefit of countries.
He said Pakistan had a brilliant history of relationship with Africa in view of its participation in the peacekeeping efforts by siding with the United Nations in conflict-hit areas. He stressed the need for setting targets keeping in view future scenario for better integration.
The president said Africa presented a tremendous opportunity for Pakistani goods and services for being the second largest continent with 20 per cent of world’s land mass and 54 sovereign states, and 1.2 billion people with largest youth population on the globe.
He said that with a collective GDP of over $2.3 trillion and an import market of around $500bn, most countries in Africa witnessed stable growth.
The president said that Prime Minister Imran Khan built a strong narrative at the forum of UN General Assembly on global economic priorities, money laundering, the Kashmir dispute and Islamophobia.
He termed the climate change another problem affecting the countries worldwide and stressed the need for holding a Saarc conference on environment to avert climatic threats in the region.
He said Pakistan had learned a lesson after suffering from terrorism for 40 years not to polarise societies from within, and mentioned that currently a country at the eastern border was now falling to the similar trap.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the idea of convening this conference was to deepen connect with Africa and add economic thrust to diplomatic relations.
Terming Africa a continent of future, he said the era of geo-strategic connectivity demanded of Pakistan to be part of it and address the growing traditional and non-traditional threats in the domain of economy and security.
He called for increasing frequency of business interactions, high-level contacts and close people-to-people relations.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2019