LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Iran is a sincere and reliable friend of Pakistan, while there is a need for further promoting economic, trade and industrial ties between the two countries.

Talking to Advisor to Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Akbar Walaiti, who met leading a 14-member delegation at Model Town Friday, the chief minister said Nawaz Sharif played a vital role as prime minister in strengthening relations with Iran.

“Time has come for both the countries to move forward together in economic, trade, industrial and agriculture sectors. Iran is an important country of the region and it has to play an active role in maintaining peace in the region,” Shahbaz said.

The chief minister lauded Walaiti’s role in bringing the Islamic countries closer besides strengthening Pak-Iran relations. He welcomed the offer of Iran to provide assistance to Pakistan to overcome energy crisis.

Shahbaz said the federal government had not adopted any concrete policy during five years to overcome the energy shortage. He said combating energy crisis was a tough ask while Punjab being a big province, was being more impacted by the loadshedding.

“Punjab government has made planning to overcome energy crisis through its own resources, whereas work on various development projects for generation of energy from water, coal and solar power is being carried out expeditiously,” the CM informed.

Speaking on the occasion, Ali Akbar Walaiti said the relations between Pakistan and Iran were extremely strong during the rule of Nawaz Sharif who played an important role in cementing mutual ties.

He said the management and efforts of Shahbaz Sharif for the welfare, progress and development of the people were laudable. He prayed that whole Pakistan should progress as people of Punjab have progressed under Shahbaz Sharif.

“Punjab is the heart of Pakistan, which is progressing under the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif. Gas pipeline agreement is an important development, through which the ties between both the countries will be further strengthened,” the added.

Walaiti stressed the need for further promoting Pakistan- Iran relations in economic, trade, industrial and agriculture sectors. He invited PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to visit Iran.

The chief minister said he considered Iran as his second home and he would soon visit Tehran. During the meeting, fateha was also offered for Abbas Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.

Senior Advisor Senator Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Special Assistant Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Planning and Development chairman, Punjab Investment Board chief executive officer and Iranian Consul General Hussain Bani Asadi were also present.