Pakistan and Bosnia vow to increase trade, scientific cooperation
Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic arrived on a two-day visit to Islamabad on Wednesday where he, along with Prime Minister Imran Khan, vowed to increase cooperation on science, trade and other fields between the two countries.
Both leaders also oversaw the signing of two memorandums of understanding between the two countries at the Prime Minister's House, where Dzaferovic was received by the PM and also presented a guard of honour, Radio Pakistan reported.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the accords were signed, Prime Minister Imran said both countries had decided to improve trade relations with each other.
According to Radio Pakistan, the premier pointed out that trade between the two countries currently stood at €4.5 million which he said was "nothing".
"We have had meetings and will have further meetings to improve trade and cooperation in all fields," he said.
The premier also thanked Bosnia for its support of Pakistan's stance on occupied Kashmir.
"[Bosnia] took a principled stance and talked about the people's rights [and] a just settlement. India has been taken over by a fascist ideology — not just with what is happening in Kashmir but also with minorities in India."
The PM disclosed that both leaders also discussed Islamophobia in their meeting. "We condemned terrorist acts by Muslims in France but we felt that for inter-religious harmony, it is important that freedom of speech is not used as an instrument to hurt the sentiments of any religious community," he added.
"Any insult, ridicule or mocking of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) causes the greatest pain to the Muslim community and Western countries must understand that [they] cannot use freedom of speech as a weapon against Muslims.
"Unless this is understood, Muslims will react which will lead to marginalisation [and] radicalisation."
In his speech, Dzaferovic thanked the premier for his invitation, saying he was "grateful for the opportunity to visit Pakistan".
He said both the countries had stood by each other in difficult times.
Dzaferovic said human rights of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir must be respected and stressed that the dispute should be resolved in line with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
He also strongly condemned Islamophobic incidents as unacceptable, calling for a dialogue to build bridges and evolve unity around diversity.
The chairman said there were great opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in many areas including military, agriculture and diplomacy.
Dzaferovic also had a meeting with Qureshi in which they talked about bilateral cooperation, the Foreign Office said.
"It was agreed that a vast potential existed to enhance cooperation, especially in the fields of trade and investment, energy, science & technology, defence industry, education, and people-to-people exchanges."
During the meeting, the foreign minister "underlined the importance of promoting mutual collaboration through optimal utilisation of mechanisms of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC), Joint Economic Commission (JEC) and Joint Trade Committee (JTC)". He also offered training at the Foreign Service Academy for the young diplomats from Bosnia & Herzegovina, the statement added.
The visiting leader was also briefed about the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir and India's attempt to change the demographic structure of the disputed valley.
This is Dzaferovic’s first visit to Pakistan. Earlier, Prime Minister Imran met Dzaferovic on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Makkah in May last year.
Under one of the memorandums of understanding signed today, a streamlined process will be initiated to ensure that a large number of illegal migrants from Pakistan, currently in Bosnia & Herzegovina, will be returned through a readmission process.
Interior Minister retired Brigadier Ijaz Ahmed Shah and Bosnian Minister for Security Selmo Cikotic were signatories to this MoU.
A second MoU was signed between Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Council of Ministers of Bosnia & Herzegovina to promote scientific cooperation between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul and senior officials were also present on the occasion.
Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.