Monday July 22, 2024

PM Shehbaz Sharif phones Chinese counterpart; Gen Asim Munir in Saudi Arabia

Pakistan and China have agreed on maintaining close communication to fast-track the bilateral cooperation agenda for mutual benefit of the people of two countries in 2023 and beyond

By APP & our correspondent
January 06, 2023
General Asim Munir meets Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman. Saudi press agency.
General Asim Munir meets Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman. Saudi press agency. 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China have agreed on maintaining close communication to fast-track the bilateral cooperation agenda for mutual benefit of the people of two countries in 2023 and beyond.

The agreement reached during a comprehensive telephone conversation between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday.

The two leaders’ discussion was characterised by warmth and cordiality, in keeping with the best traditions of Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement said.

The prime minister and Chinese premier exchanged New Year greetings, noting that bilateral relations had grown to new heights in 2022 and agreeing to maintain a steady momentum of bilateral cooperation in 2023.

Recalling his visit to China in November last year and wide-ranging conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li, Shehbaz underscored Pakistan’s commitment to fostering closer relations with China, and reiterated unstinting support on China’s core interests. The two leaders also discussed regional issues of mutual interest.

The prime minister emphasised Pakistan’s unswerving focus on timely progress of China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and assured the Chinese premier that Pakistan would provide a completely secure and conducive business environment for Chinese investors.

Premier Li Keqiang assured Shehbaz that China views Pakistan not only as a strategic friend but as a country whose stability and economic welfare is of utmost importance to the region and to China. He said China would always stand in solidarity with Pakistan.

Noting the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan being held in Geneva on Monday, the prime minister briefed his Chinese counterpart on the latest progress in post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation in Pakistan and conveyed Pakistan’s profound gratitude for China’s prompt and generous support for the flood-affected people.

The Chinese PM assured Shehbaz of China’s continued support for Pakistan’s reconstruction efforts and success of the conference.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s new army chief General Asim Munir embarked on a seven-day visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), confirmed the military’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday after his meeting with Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, reported by the Saudi Press Agency.

Pakistan has always maintained close diplomatic and defence relations with the two Arab countries that employ a large number of its workers.

According to official statistics, the Pakistani diaspora in Saudi Arabia remitted $6.67 billion in 2022 which was closely followed by its citizens in the UAE who sent $5.10 billion.

The two Middle Eastern nations have also come to Pakistan’s rescue amid tough financial circumstances by offering it deferred oil payment facilities and sending substantial amounts of money to shore up its forex reserves. They have also closely collaborated in the fields of defence and security.

“General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), is on an official visit to KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] and UAE from 4th to 10th December,” the ISPR said in a brief statement.

“COAS will be meeting the senior leadership of both the brotherly countries to discuss matters of mutual interest, military-to-military cooperation and bilateral relations focusing on security related subjects.”

Outgoing British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner, meanwhile, paid a farewell call on Shehbaz Sharif here at the PM House.

During the meeting, the prime minister said the Pakistan-United Kingdom relations, which were rooted in history, shared legacy and strong people-to-people bonds had gone from strength to strength. He said the UK was Pakistan’s largest European trading, investment and development partner.

The trajectory of the bilateral relations between the two countries showed immense potential for growth for the benefit of their people.

Shehbaz lauded the services rendered by Dr Turner for the promotion of Pakistan-UK ties, especially in the fields of trade, investment and economic cooperation. He also commended the British high commissioner for his proactive role in channelising the UK’s support for relief and recovery of the victims of climate-induced floods in Pakistan.

The prime minister appreciated Dr Turner’s role in bringing the English cricket team to Pakistan after 17 years to play exciting cricket.

Moreover, the PM was all praise for his remarkable role in the revival of commercial flight operations of British Airways in Pakistan.

Shehbaz expressed his best wishes to the high commissioner for his future endeavours. He also hosted a lunch in the honour of the outgoing HC.

The prime minister, meanwhile, directed the authorities concerned to take practical steps to enhance the country’s IT exports from the current $2.6 billion to $15 billion within the next three years.

The prime minister, who chaired a meeting to discuss the promotion of information technology sector, also directed to enhance IT professionals’ strength from 0.6 million to 1.5 million.

He instructed the Higher Education Commission, universities, and training institutes to work on the said target on a priority basis, besides improving the educational curriculum in accordance with the market needs.

The prime minister also ordered the formation of a standing committee to deliberate on linkages between the government and IT industry and for resolution of the industry’s issues.

The committee would comprise the representatives of IT industry, State Bank of Pakistan, Finance Ministry, IT Ministry and other relevant departments.

The prime minister assured to resolve the IT industry’s issues and asked the relevant authorities to take effective measures for the purpose.

He also urged the IT industry to bring its export revenue to Pakistan and instructed the State Bank of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue and other departments to take effective measures. He said Pakistan had a huge potential in the IT sector, which needed to be exploited.

He said the IT industry stood alongside the government to improve the national economy. The prime minister said that IT entrepreneurs had played a key role in the promotion of IT sector. However, the country’s IT exports were not in accordance with the existing talent.

He said the government would recognise the exporters who had played their role to enhance IT exports.

The representatives of the IT sector apprised the prime minister of their issues and put forward their suggestions.

Federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Aminul Haq, Adviser Ahad Cheema, SAPMs Syed Fahd Husain, Tariq Bajwa and Jahanzeb Khan, senior government officers and representatives of the IT sector attended the meeting.