Pak-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Groups Joint Meeting

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ISLAMABAD,  (Parliament Times) : A joint virtual meeting between the Pakistan-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Groups in the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan with the Australia-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Parliament of Australia was held on Thursday in the Parliament House. This was a first of its kind joint meeting and aimed to develop a framework for further action.

The meeting was chaired jointly by Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed from the Senate of Pakistan and Ms. Marriyam Aurangzeb, MNA and Convener Pak-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Group. Other participants from Pakistan included Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Mr. Danesh Kumar, Mr. Ali Zahid MNA, Dr. Nisra Cheema MNA, Ms. Farrukh Khan MNA, Ms. Rukhsana Naveed MNA, Ms. Ghazala Saifi MNA, Ms. Syma Nadeem MNA, Ms. Romina Khursheed Alam MNA, Ms. Shamim Alam Panhwar MNA, Dr. Shazia Sobia MNA, Dr. Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto MNA, Ms. Shandana Gulzar Khan MNA, Ms. Naseeba Channa MNA, Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari MNA, Mr. Rahat Amanullah Bhatti MNA and Mr. Mohsin Dawar MNA. The Australian side was led by Mr. Rowan Ramsey MP and Chairman of the Australia-Pakistan Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament, other participants included Mr Andrew Giles MP and Co-Chairman of the Australia-Pakistan Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament, Mr. Steve Georganas MP, Mr. Julian Hill MP, Ms. Maria Vamvskinou MP, Mr. Graham Perrett MP and Senator David Van. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia H.E. Mr. Zahid Hafeez Chaudhary and Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan H.E. Geoffery Shaw were also present in the meeting.

Ms. Marriyam Aurangzeb, MNA and Convener Pak-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Group welcomed the participants and informed them regarding the need to strengthen linkages for benefit of the people of Australia and Pakistan. She highlighted the need to prioritize key areas for engagement including capacity building of the Secretariats in the Parliament, capitalizing on Pakistan’s demographic dividend through creation of educational opportunities, creating enabling environment for innovation through knowledge sharing on science and technology and addressing challenges of food security and climate change through collaboration in the field of agriculture.

She also informed the members about the cross party nature of parliamentary friendship groups in the Parliament of Pakistan. She also apprised the members on the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Secretariat in the National Assembly of Pakistan, making it the first Parliament in the world and the presence of a vibrant Women’s Parliamentary Caucus in Pakistan’s Parliament

Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed stressed on Australia’s role in peace-building efforts and hoped that it will play its due role in highlighting the plight of the oppressed people of the Indian illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. He also raised the difficulties faced by Pakistani students due to COVID-19 related restrictions placed by the Australia.

Mr. Rowan Ramsey MP and Chairman of the Australia-Pakistan Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament informed the participants that Australia’s friendship group comprised participants from both houses including members from Treasury and Opposition. He opined that developments in Afghanistan need to be evaluated and termed the situation in Afghanistan as a great humanitarian issue. He commended the efforts of Pakistan in facilitation of visa for foreign and Afghan nationals through its embassy in Kabul and keeping its borders open. He proposed that in order to address the issues faced by Pakistani students in Australia, a meeting with Pakistan’s High Commissioner along-with Mr. Rowan Ramsey MPand Mr Andrew Giles MP and Co-Chairman of the Australia-Pakistan Friendship Group in the Australian Parliament be held. Mr. Andrew Gales, MP stressed the need for strengthening economic ties between the two countries.

Members from both sides reiterated their commitment to work for the betterment of their people by capitalizing on the similarities and celebrating diversity between the two countries.

During the meeting, it was decided that the High Commissioners in the respective countries shall act as focal points and assist in drafting a proposal for working on key areas. The meeting ended with the vote of thanks from both sides.