Islamabad, (Parliament Times) : Pakistan has envisaged renewed “Engage Africa Policy” to strengthen its ties with all African countries and has decided to increase its diplomatic missions in the countries in addition to open the Pakistan’s Embassy in Djibouti owing to growing economic and political importance of the African region. The exchange of parliamentary delegations would steer the agenda for enhanced economic, political and defence cooperation not only between the Pakistan and Djibouti but also with other African countries. Pakistan eyes vibrant interactions to share the experiences in public sector reforms, technical cooperation, infrastructure development and private investment with the African countries. These views were expressed by Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani in a meeting with Mohamed Ali Houmed Acting Chairman of the African Union Parliament and President Djibouti National Parliament here at Parliament House on Tuesday. President of Djibouti National Parliament Mohamed Ali Houmed is leading a 12-member delegation to Pakistan on the invitation of Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani.
Chairman Senate appreciated the visit of President of National Assembly of Djibouti to Pakistan during this testing time of COVID-19 and expressed the hope that his visit would strengthen the existing foundation of strong brotherly relations between Pakistan and Djibouti and would open new vistas of diplomatic, parliamentary and economic cooperation with the African region. Chairman Senate further appreciated the role of Djibouti to foster peace and stability among African nations and sought support to Pakistan to become observer member in Inter Governmental Development Authority (IGAD). Chairman Senate apprised the visiting delegation that there is vibrant Pakistan and Djibouti Friendship Group in Senate of Pakistan and two sides can work together to devise plan for increased Parliamentary relations and organizational linkages for mutual benefits of the Parliaments. Chairman Senate lauded the visionary role of President Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh for modernization and development of Djibouti. He apprised that trade between Pakistan and landlocked Ethiopia takes place through Djibouti and Pakistan needs special treatment for expeditious delivery of goods to Ethiopia. He emphasized to devise special package for Pakistani investors and entrepreneurs to invest and extend quality services for Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ) as it has been attracting investments from China, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries.
Chairman Senate expressed the need to build closer meteorological cooperation between Pakistan and Djibouti to monitor and track the movement of locust infestation in Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa. He informed that Pakistan has been providing training facilities to Djibouti in the fields of diplomacy, banking and railways. Sadiq Sanjrani assured continuous provision of technical expertise in fields like Information Technology (IT), Education, Banking, Diplomacy and showed keen interest to build sports linkages especially between football teams of Pakistan and Djibouti. He said that Pakistan is ready to provide technical and medical assistance to Djibouti to control COVID-19 pandemic. Chairman Senate thanked the participation of Djiboutian Navy in AMAN exercise held from 8-12 February, 2019 along Pakistani coast in Arabian Sea.
He said that Pakistan enjoys great respect among the comity of African nations due to its constructive role as an important player of “UN Peacekeeping Operations” in Africa. Based on our earlier contributions towards development of peace in Africa, Pakistan has ample opportunities to build military to military cooperation with African countries. Such defense cooperation would create huge market for Pakistan’s defense production. Chairman Senate apprised about the recent volatile situation in IOJ&K following the unconstitutional, illegal and unilateral actions of India to alter its disputed status, which was in contravention of the international laws and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions which has become a grave humanitarian crisis. He urged the importance of resolving the conflict in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people by implementation of relevant UN resolutions. He also apprised about the impending health emergency in the wake of the spread of Covid-19 which is hampering dissemination of information, supply of medicines and other essentials items to fight the pandemic. He stressed the need for a unified call from international community for lifting these restrictions.
Both the sides interacted on delegation level. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani led the Pakistan delegation during the meeting which also included Senators Sajjad Hussain Turi, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Kuhda Babar, Naseeb Ullah Bazai and Secretary Senate Muhammad Qasim Samad Khan. Speaking on the occasion Chairman Senate reiterated that African countries are socially and politically very close to Pakistan and we are ready to take measures for enhancing the trade ties between the two sides. He said that Djibouti and other African countries should explore the prospects for investment in Gwadar which is developing as a trade hub not only for this region but would also facilitate the trade towards the African countries. He said that Djibouti being centrally located in the African region should cooperate for promoting the trade through the channel.
The head of visiting delegation Mohamed Ali Houmed agreed with the views of Chairman Senate and said that visit of Pakistan despite difficult traveling conditions due to COVID-19, shows the importance of this country for us. He said that people of both the countries are already very close and there is a need to establish parliamentary and trade relations on solid grounds. He said that with the opportunities for the training of the parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from African countries in Pakistan would further strengthen these relations. He said that we are looking forward to benefit from economic opportunities being offered by the development of Gwadar as a regional port. He said that through this cooperation, trade volume between this region and African countries may increase many fold. He said that the Kashmir issue must be resolved according to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The head of the delegation invited Chairman Senate to visit Djibouti to further the agenda of mutual cooperation.
The 12-member parliamentary delegation of Djibouti led by President of National Parliament of Djibouti Mohamed Ali Houmed held meeting with Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate at Parliament House Islamabad and discussed matters of mutual significance and bilateral importance. Welcoming the delegation, Chairman of the Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed observed that both the countries are intertwined in social, political and cultural similarities. He said Pakistan and Djibouti are Muslim countries and their strategic locations enhance political importance in international arena. He said that Pakistan values its relations with Djibouti and other African countries and desires to expand mutual collaboration with a renewed zeal under Engage Africa Policy. “Pakistan has adopted a balance policy towards East and the West and so is being done by Djibouti which brings both the countries more close”, Senator Mushahid stated. He said visit of the parliamentary delegation from a friendly country of African region would augur well for both sides. We need follow more robust approach to build strong multifaceted cooperation. He said that Pakistan believes in peace and has played active role in promoting regional peace security. He, however, pointed towards the atrocities inflicted upon the innocent people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and said that Pakistan wants resolution of the long standing issues in accordance with UN resolutions and international laws. He said that Pakistan and Djibouti share a special bond of friendship and have historically enjoyed cordial relations with Djibouti. The meeting was also attended by Senators Seemi Ezdi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Sitara Ayaz, Javed Abbasi, Mian Atiq Sheikh, Asif Kirmani, Mirza Muhammad Afridi.
Leader of the Parliamentary delegation thanked Senator Mushahid for his sentiments and warm welcome. He termed the visit highly important. He underscored the need for enhanced parliamentary cooperation. He emphasized the need for enhanced institutional linkages and cooperation to benefit from expertise in various sectors. The delegation later on visited Senate Museum and Senate Hall.