ISLAMABAD: A dozen senior Pakistani diplomats came together on Tuesday to recommend the establishment of economic desks to “strengthen Pakistan’s economic, trade and commerce relations” with the Middle Eastern states, at both regional and bilateral levels.
Concluded Tuesday, the three-day Envoys Conference proposed the appointment of economic attachés in Pakistan’s foreign missions in the Middle Eastern states. The event was participated by Pakistani diplomats working as ambassadors/heads of missions in 12 Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan and Syria.
Of the six sessions the moot was divided into, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the concluding session that also saw the participation of Advisor to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. Among the Pakistani Ambassadors who showed up at the moot were Naeem Khan (Saudi Arabia), Noor Jadmani (Iran), Asif Durrani (UAE), Waheed Ahmad (Syria), Shazad Ahmad (Qatar), Ahsan Hayat (Jordan) and others.
The six recommendations made during the moot largely proposed streamlining and strengthening regional and bilateral relations between Pakistan and the Middle Eastern countries, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Speaking on the occasion, the PM termed the diplomacy as country’s “first line of defence.” “It is an excellent initiative to bring Pakistan’s envoys home periodically, for intensive debate and discussion amongst themselves, as well as with the concerned stake-holders,” he said. His government, the PM said, was paying “particular attention to the promotion of our special relationships with fraternal countries in the Gulf and Middle East. Recent exchanges at the highest level reflect these endeavours.“ On Pakistan’s desire to develop peaceful and workable relationship with the neighbours, Nawaz Sharif said, “The central emphasis has been on building a peaceful neighbourhood leading to a policy of constructive engagement with all our neighbours. “As regards Afghanistan, the key tenets of our approach are non-interference, support for the peace and reconciliation process, and building a bilateral relationship, marked by enhanced trade and economic cooperation.
“We remain committed to reaching out to India and seeking a peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, through a sustained dialogue. We believe the main dynamic in South Asia should be cooperation, not confrontation. The hopes and aspirations of 1/5th of humanity for a more hopeful future can be realised, only if we focus on accelerating our development, and harnessing our potentials. “Since June 2013, we have reinforced our strategic partnership with China, re-oriented the relationship with the U.S., upgraded ties with the European Union, reached out afresh to Russia, and strengthened linkages with ASEAN, Africa and Latin America.”
Requesting anonymity, a Pakistani diplomat privy to the Envoy’s Conference shared with Daily Times that the recommendations made in the moot would officially be sent to the PM Secretariat via Cabinet Division in the coming days for the Premier’s approval. “The PM would discuss these recommendations with his Cabinet members in the Federal Cabinet meeting before giving a formal approval. The recommendations would come into effect subject to the Premier’s nod,” he informed.
On the proposed establishment of separate economic desks led by economic attachés, he said “We have defence and cultural attachés in majority of our foreign missions abroad, why not economic attachés? Our economic management in the foreign missions especially in the GCC states needs to be streamlined. The officials who take care of economic or trade related activities in these missions are either commercial counsellors or commercial attachés. We need to upgrade these positions for boosting our economic, trade and commerce related operations abroad.” The Foreign Office says it periodically organises Envoys Conferences, in which Pakistan’s envoys in key missions abroad, together with senior officials in relevant ministries and departments in Islamabad, discuss issues pertaining to Pakistan’s cooperation with other countries at bilateral and multilateral levels.
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