The Philippines and Pakistan celebrate 69 years of friendship

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PAKISTAN celebrates its National Day today, commemorating the passing of the Pakistan Resolution, which was passed by the All-India Muslim League in March 23, 1940, calling for creation of an independent Muslim country, carved out of what was then British India.

Today is a national holiday in Pakistan with celebrations in the capital city of Islamabad, highlighted by a joint military and civilian parade. President Mamnoon Hussain will lead the parade, which will be attended by dignitaries from around the world.

Father of Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The United Arab Emirates is also sending a military contingent to join the parade in Islamabad. Sporting legends Diego Maradona and Boris Becker, as well as Hollywood actress Hillary Swank Lindsay Lohan, are also expected to grace the festivities.

In the Philippines, the celebration will be led by Ambassador Dr. Aman Rashid.


Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain

The Philippines and Pakistan are nearing the milestone of 70 years of friendship next year. On July 16, 1949, an air-service agreement was entered into by both countries. On September 8 of that same year, the Philippines opened a consulate in Karachi. On January 3, 1951, the Philippines and Pakistan signed a treaty inter alia ensuring “perpetual peace and everlasting unity between the two countries and its peoples.”

Leaders of both countries have also exchanged visits over the years. On the Pakistan side, Prime Ministers Husseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Mohammad Khan Junejo, and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto came here in 1957, 1988, and 1995, respectively; and President Pervez Musharraf, in 2005. For the Philippines, Presidents Diosdado Macapagal and Fidel Ramos flew to Pakistan on 1962 and 1997, respectively.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Trade between both consists of textiles, rice, pharmaceutical products, leather hides, fruits, sport goods, and surgical instruments from Pakistan; and automotive parts, paper products, food preparations, electronics, and packaging materials from the Philippines.

Some 3000 Filipinos reside in Pakistan, as domestic servants, nurses, and professionals; meanwhile, nearly half that number of Pakistanis stay in the Philippines, as students, businessmen and professionals—with a number employed at the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.

Fortifying friendship
In recent months, both countries have been strengthening relations.

Last December, the Zulfiguar (Sword) class frigate Saif of the Pakistani Navy called on Manila, on a goodwill visit – part of “confidence-building” engagements between both countries. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself toured the frigate, while it was here.

In January 2018, 5th round of Pakistan- Philippines bilateral political consultations was held in Islamabad.

A group photo with President Rodrigo Duterte onboard Pakistan navy ship SAIF

Just last February, the Joint Pakistan-Philippine Economic Commission met in Islamabad, led by Pakistani Economic Affairs Division Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan and Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo. Both countries are looking to expand economic cooperation in the areas of energy, agriculture, health, and industry. Pakistan presented prospective export products: rice; fruits, including Pakistani citrus and mangoes; leather garments; pharmaceutical goods; sporting goods; and surgical items. The Philippines, for its part offered electronics and semi-conductors; automotive parts and components; and processed food and Halal products.

The meeting also arrived at the following agreements:

• Both sides agreed to hold and actively participate in trade fairs, single country and product based exhibitions in each other’s country on a regular basis.

• Both sides agreed to conduct feasibility studies on the possibility of Preferential Trade Agreement and to the formation of a Technical Working Group within the JEC for this purpose.

• Both sides agreed to re-activate the Pakistan-Philippines Joint Business Forum/Council with the participation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Philippines and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Pakistan.

• Pakistan offered Philippines investment opportunities in Power sector of Pakistan in renewable energy and small hydro power projects and training in the areas of hydro carbon like exploration, production, processing and survey etc.

• The two sides agreed to collaborate in the area of post-harvest management and processing of rice and banana.

• Pakistan invited Philippines to invest in construction of Highways in Pakistan on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.

• Philippines shared investment opportunities for Pakistan pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing in the Philippines.

A next meeting, to be held in Manila, is being planned.

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