Pakistan's priorities have shifted from geo-political to geo-economic, says Qureshi

Published February 24, 2021
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter about PM Imran's visit to Sri Lanka. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to a reporter about PM Imran's visit to Sri Lanka. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan has "shifted its geo-political priorities into geo-economic priorities", while speaking about Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Sri Lanka.

The foreign minister was briefing the media about the premier's maiden visit to Colombo. Qureshi said that Pakistan has offered a credit line of $15 million to Sri Lanka for defence and security cooperation to "end the menace of terrorism [which is] of equal importance to both" countries.

Furthermore, the government has also decided to offer scholarships to 100 Sri Lankan students in the top medical institutes in Pakistan, he said.

FM Qureshi assured that Pakistan stood by Sri Lanka in the fight against terrorism especially when the latter was "in trouble and terrorism [there] was at its peak". "They share credit [of defeating terrorism] with Pakistan," Qureshi said in a conversation with reporters.

He said that the prime minister's visit will help in strengthening bilateral ties and increase cooperation between the two countries, Radio Pakistan reported.

The two sides also discussed ways to enhance bilateral trade and investment during the visit, Qureshi said, adding that trade between the two countries was below potential even though a free trade agreement existed.

The country is also looking at ways to promote tourism, noting that Pakistan had several Buddhist sites that would be attractive to Sri Lanka's citizens. Furthermore, the varied landscapes and climate zones in Pakistan are also of attraction for visitors.

PM Imran's visit

PM Imran arrived in Sri Lanka on Tuesday on a two-day visit on the invitation of the country's prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

On arrival in Colombo, he was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart and presented a guard of honour. He was later introduced to members of the Sri Lankan cabinet.Prime Minister Imran and Rajapaksa then held a one-on-one meeting at Temple Trees, the official residence of the Sri Lankan prime minister.

It was followed by delegation-level talks between Imran and Rajapaksa, according to the former's office.

A Foreign Office statement said yesterday that Imran and Rajapaksa during the meeting held wide-ranging discussions with a focus on reinforcing a "broad-based and enduring partnership" between Pakistan and Sri Lanka to advance the shared objectives of peace, stability and economic prosperity in South Asia.

​The two leaders reaffirmed their resolve to work together across a broad range of areas and acknowledged the opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration in the areas of trade and investment, IT and human resource development, agriculture and science and technology, security and defence cooperation, and culture and tourism.

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