PM underlines need for stronger ties with Maldives

Updated 11 Aug 2020

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President Solih in phone call with Prime Minister Imran Khan discusses coronavirus, other issues. — PM's Instagram/File
President Solih in phone call with Prime Minister Imran Khan discusses coronavirus, other issues. — PM's Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan in a phone call to Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday emphasised the need for stronger ties between the two countries.

“The prime minister reaffirmed Pakis­tan’s desire to work with the Maldives to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region,” the Prime Minister Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Mr Solih tweeted: “Had a very engaging phone conversation with Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan this afternoon in which we updated each other on COVID 19 measures in our respective countries and also, how we could further enhance the already warm and fraternal relations between Maldives and Pakistan.”

The call comes months after the Maldives surprised Pakistan by thwarting its bid for constituting an informal group of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation envoys at the United Nations on Islamophobia on the pretext that India was being singled out, which could, therefore, be “detrimental to religious harmony in South Asia”.

President Solih in phone call with Imran discusses coronavirus, other issues

This is the second fence-mending call by the prime minister to countries in South Asia in weeks. On July 22, Mr Khan called Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Wajed to express his desire for “closer and fraternal” relations. Ties between Islamabad and Dhaka had been tense for years.

During his conversation with President Solih, “the prime minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on peace and security situation in South Asia, underlining that the region needed peace and cooperation so that the South Asian nations could realise their true economic potential”.

Mr Khan renewed his invitation to President Solih to visit Pakistan.

“Pakistan accords high importance to its fraternal ties with the Maldives, a fellow Saarc member state, and is committed to further strengthening them in all fields,” the PMO said.

The two leaders exchanged views on the challenges posed by Covid-19. Mr Khan appreciated the Maldivian government’s efforts to contain the spread of the disease and shared his own experiences in the fight against the pandemic.

Pakistan is being described as a successful example in the fight against Covid-19. The coronavirus cases and deaths due to the disease have consistently been on the decline. However, experts warn that the threat may still not be over.

Mr Khan briefed Mr Solih on his “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries to mitigate the severe socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

“The prime minister underscored that developing countries were particularly vulnerable due to limited fiscal space and health sector infrastructure constraints and, therefore, required special measures,” the PMO said.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020