Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday met US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who is currently on her maiden visit to Pakistan, and underscored that Pakistan valued its long-standing relationship with the United States and wanted to further deepen bilateral cooperation based on mutual respect, trust and equality.
The premier highlighted that constructive engagement between the two countries could help promote peace, security and development in the region, according to state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). Omar, who made history as one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress, arrived in Islamabad early today on a four-day visit to Pakistan.
She met a host of important figures including President Dr Arif Alvi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, National Assembly (NA) Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Foreign Office officials. The US lawmaker will stay in Pakistan till April 24 and is scheduled to visit Lahore and Azad Kashmir.
Appreciating her courage, convictions and political struggle, the prime minister warmly welcomed her on her first-ever visit to Pakistan. He hoped that it would lead to deepening people-to-people ties and strengthen exchanges between Pakistan's parliament and the US Congress.
Congresswoman Omar thanked the prime minister and also hoped that her visit to Pakistan would help strengthen ties between Pakistan and the US Congress.
During her meeting with the prime minister, matters of mutual interest including Pakistan-US bilateral relations as well as the regional situation were discussed, APP reported.
Maintaining that the US was Pakistan’s largest trading partner, the premier emphasised the need to further enhance cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of trade and investment.
He lauded the efforts of the Pakistani diaspora in reinforcing the Pakistan-US ties and added that Pakistan deeply valued their contribution to national development and growth.
PM Shehbaz highlighted the serious human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute that would enable the region to realise its economic potential and promote social progress.
He emphasised that a peaceful and stable South Asian region could focus on its growth and development.
Shehbaz also urged that concerted global efforts were needed to deal with the scourge of Islamophobia.
Meeting with President Alvi
President Dr Arif Alvi also said that Pakistan valued its relationship with the US in his meeting with Omar.
He expressed hope that constructive engagements between the two countries would promote peace and development in the region.
Alvi emphasised the need for further improving bilateral relations in various fields for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of bilateral exchanges which would improve understanding between Pakistan and the US.
The president apprised the visiting dignitary about the atrocities being committed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime against minorities in India, particularly the Muslim community.
He said India was involved in the genocide of Muslims and committed gross human rights violations against them.
President Alvi highlighted the role played by Pakistan for the promotion of peace in the region as well as its sacrifices against the war on terror.
Omar said that Pakistan and the US had huge potential to improve and strengthen their relations. She appreciated the role played by Pakistan against Islamophobia, particularly towards the adoption of the UN resolution in this regard.
On economic matters, Alvi underlined that Pakistan's IT sector was the most important one for investment and US businessmen could invest in it.
In her meeting with Khan at his Bani Gala residence, Omar discussed Islamophobia and other related issues. She expressed her admiration for the former prime minister and his work for Muslims globally, according to PTI's Shireen Mazari.
Omar also met NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf who said that "enhancing parliament to parliament contacts is vital for strengthening Pak-US relations."
Ashraf appreciated Omar's work for ensuring the fundamental rights of minorities, especially women and children in the US, and invited US Congress members to Pakistan in order to strengthen ties.
The US lawmaker said her country would continue to support Pakistan, especially in the fields of education, health & women empowerment. She also invited the speaker to visit the US congress to improve parliamentary contacts between the two countries.