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Pakistan, Bahrain agree to boost defence cooperation

20 March, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Bahrain on Wednesday vowed to further enhance military cooperation between the two countries, as Bahraini King Hamad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa visited the Joint Staff Headquarters along with his delegation.

On his arrival, King Hamad was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood. Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt were also present on the occasion.

Both the sides discussed the brotherly relations between the two countries and vowed to further enhance the military cooperation. Paying rich tributes to Pakistan's military for its valour and sacrifices in defence of the motherland, King Hamad particularly praised the professionalism, quality of training and commitment of the Pakistan armed forces.

Earlier, the king was presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned-out contingent of the three services. Meanwhile, the two countries signed 15 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) and two agreements aiming at boosting the bilateral trade and investment relations in different sectors. These MoUs and agreements were inked at the conclusion of a day-long Pakistan-Bahrain Business Forum, which was jointly organised by the Bahrain Ministry of Industries and Commerce in collaboration with the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce and theBoard of Investment.

Representatives of different private companies and senior officials of both the governments inked the MoUs and agreements on behalf of their respective sides. Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan invited the business community of Bahrain to take the maximum benefit from the trade and business opportunities in different sectors of Pakistan economy.

The visit of the king of Bahrain took place at a time when Pakistan was emerging economically and politically as a vibrant and stable state, he added. He extended the fullest support of his ministry to the investors of Bahrain and stressed the need for further enhancing the business links between both the countries.

Khurram Dastgir also offered joint ventures in textile sectors for fully harnessing the Free Trade Agreements signed by Bahrain with the US as well as providing opportunities for Pakistan to get benefits from the GSP Plus facility granted to Pakistan by the European Union.

Speaking on the occasion, the Board of Investment Chairman Miftah Ismail said Pakistan was going to initiate work on 20-25,000MW electricity generation projects and construction of motorways, and urged Bahrain to take advantage of these investment opportunities.

He told the forum that Pakistan offered 17 percent returns on investments in alternative energy resources and the business community from Bahrain could benefit from this opportunity. Speaking at the forum, Bahrain Minister for Industries and Commerce Dr Hassan A Fakhro said that current volume of trade between Bahrain and Pakistan stood at only US$400 million, which would be further increased during the days to come.

The minister sought Pakistani investment in red meat, poultry, rice, fresh vegetables and textile sectors as a demand exists for Pakistani products in the Bahraini market. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif called on King Hamad and discussed matters of mutual cooperation in the field of defence and defence training.

The defence minister stressed that Pakistan had always looked to its Muslim brothers and consistent support from Muslim friends was commendable, said a press release issued here. He said Pakistan had faced a lot of difficulties during the ongoing war on terror and had laid down unprecedented sacrifices in this regard.

Our correspondent adds: Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar briefed the king of Bahrain on the economic situation of the country. He claimed with the prudent policies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the government had overcome the initial economic difficulties. He said the economic scenario was now very optimistic and conducive for foreign investment.He mentioned that the prime minister had a flagship programme for huge infrastructure development in the country, which will lead to economic prosperity of the people.

He informed the king about his meeting with the Bahraini businessmen and said that their interest will give a new impetus to the existing brotherly relations between the two countries.

The king appreciated the reforms undertaken by the government and said that we had quite a long history of relationship. He said that Pakistan had a huge potential for development and investments.

He underlined that the kingdom was willing to work with Pakistan and it would encourage its investors. He added that the visit would give confidence to investors and business was always built on mutual confidence. He said that Manama had a strong financial base and Bahrain's private sector could invest in Pakistan. He added that a mechanism should be put in place for the follow-up of the spirit of the meetings held during his visit.

INP adds: Meanwhile, talking to Lt-Gen Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Bahrain's Minister for Interior, who met him here on Wednesday, Federal Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that Pakistan values its close ties with Bahrain and wishes to strengthen them in all fields, particularly cyber crime, border security, civil defence and international crime.

Nisar said that both the countries shared common faiths, cultures and values, which strengthen the bond between the two countries.

He invited his Bahraini counterpart to pay a longer visit to Pakistan at his convenience so that the matters agreed upon in the MoU signed between the interior ministries of two countries could be discussed in detail.

End.

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