President Asif Ali Zardari undertook a three-day state visit to Libya on April 30 to May 2. The visit was the part of the president's four-nation tour that included United Arab Emirates, Libya, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. In the Libyan capital of Tripoli, President Zardari met with Colonel Moammar Al-Qaddafi, businessmen, and media people. President Zardari's visit seems to be useful in producing tangible results in the promotion of bilateral economic ties and mutual diplomacy. Both countries are expected to promote cooperation in wide spectrum of fields such as immigration, human resource development, employment, higher education, health, culture, banking, trade, investment, extradition, infrastructure development, housing, oil and gas, information technology, communication, and engineering. The history of Pakistan-Libya relations spans over four decades. The credit of friendship between Pakistan and Libya goes to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The relations between Bhutto and the architect of modern Libya Colonel Moammar Qaddafi were not only personal, they embedded in ideological orientations of Islamic Socialism, solidarity of Muslim Ummah, and laying the foundation of a new international economic order to uplift the plight of the Third World, and to make an end to Western neo-imperialism. Both Zulfilar Ali Bhutto and Colonel Moammar Qaddafi were not pro-Soviet Communists either. The former has an inclination toward Socialism by appreciating the rise of modem Peoples Republic of China, economic nationalisation of large scale industry, and with an unwavering faith in Western democracy. The latter dismissed the Soviet Communism and capitalism, as well as Western mode of political governance by introducing an indigenous political representation system in the shape of Peoples Congress. However, on Western political and economic exploitation, both the leaders thought alike. They, along with the Saudi King Shah Faisal, played the key role in oil embargo as a political weapon to challenge the West with a view to persuade the West to end support for Israel. The friendship between Pakistan and Libya gave a new insight to the deprived people of the Third World and Ummah. Unfortunately, the right wing political Islamists could not grasp the essence prevailing behind Bhutto-Qaddafi ideological friendship and they (right wing political Islamists) were lured by anti-Western and Zionist propaganda. They were ready to fight the costly war for the West first in Afghanistan that later spread to almost dozens of Islamic countries. Right wing political Islamists fought for neo-Western imperialism. The removal of Bhutto by Pakistan Army with the guidelines given by the United States also resulted in the removal of Pakistan-Libya relations after 1977. In 1971 and 1976, Libya provided economic assistance to Pakistan to ease its financial difficulties. Moreover Libya could be a useful trading link for Pakistan's exports to North Africa. At present, trade between the two countries is quite negligible. For instance, bilateral trade stood hardly US$8 million with US$6 million exports from Pakistan and only 2 million imports from that country. As imports have remained relatively more negligible from Libya over the years, trade balance, therefore, tilted in favour of Pakistan. Nevertheless, there is a slight increase in bilateral trade between the two countries over the past five years. Pakistani textiles related products, leathers, sports, surgical goods, and rice etc have a sizeable presence in the Libyan market. Geographical distance and small consumer market in Libya are inherited weaknesses in the promotion of bilateral trade. Therefore, rendering the services of skilled and semi-skilled Pakistan manpower, technicians and experts in services sector and joint ventures seem to be better options promoting economic relations between the two countries. It should be recalled here that during the early 1970s, as many as over 150,000 Pakistanis worked in Libya. The number is greatly declined to only 12,000 only at present. According to the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF), the number of Pakistanis living in Libya is around 30,000. There is a need to urgently revive the manpower cooperation between the two countries. The Pak-Libya Joint Ministerial Commission, which was established in 1974, needs to be revived to play an active role in the promotion of bilateral economic ties. Established in 1978, the Pak-Libya Holding Company symbolises friendship between the two brotherly countries for investment promotion. Libya is an extremely promising economy. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is over US$100 billion and its growth rate is rising to 7.3 percent. Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa. With an area of 1, 1,759,540 sq km, Libya becomes the 17th largest country in the world and the 7th largest in the Islamic bloc. It has a small population amounting to 5.7 million along with a per capita exceeding to US$17,575, making it the 5th largest in the continent of Africa. In line with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, Libya is high human development economy with fundamental socio-economic indicators better than oil-rich Saudi Arabia in many ways. In the 1980s, Libya's per capita was higher than that of Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, and New Zealand. Moreover, Libya has the highest literacy rate of 84 percent and its youth literacy is over 98 percent, making it the highest in North Africa. Libyan 1770 km long coastline is the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean. Libya has huge oil reserves. The country is highly outward-looking economy with exports exceeding to 48 percent of its GDP. Introducing economic reforms, switching over to market economy, encouraging privatisation, and investment, many more rooms are available for launching joint ventures in multiple areas between Libya and Pakistan. In this context, the strategic significance of Libya is central to Pakistan's diplomatic and commercial activities in Africa particularly in North Africa. Libya can serve as Pakistan's main diplomatic and commercial entry point for Africa. Libya, being high on social development side, educational and research contacts between Libya and Pakistan could yield better outcomes for Pakistan's social development under various bilateral exchanges. The writer is a Research Fellow (East Asia) at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)