Prime Minister Imran Khan’s latest visit to Malaysia is testimony to the long-lasting friendship between the two Muslim majority countries. Perhaps, this display of camaraderie challenges the widely held cliché “there are no permanent friends or foes” in the international relations “but national interests”. Malaysia’s PM Mahathir Muhammad’s inviting Pakistan’s PM depicts that Malaysia is among those few countries whose foreign policies are not erected on the selfish notions of national interests. Turkey is another example in this regard, as it had shown so with its consistent support for Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir.

For introspection, there is no harm in admitting that Pakistan’s decision to pull out of the Kuala Lumpur Summit was a diplomatic mistake. The decision was reflective of our leadership’s immaturity in the art of diplomacy that requires one to be receptive to its intricacies. Nevertheless, PM Khan’s acceptance of Malaysian counterpart’s invitation will much soothe the damage. Pakistani delegation’s visit, hopefully, will further consolidate the bilateral ties that are already strong. In Malaysia, Pakistan has found another friend — besides Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China — that shows unconditional love and gives support to Pakistan on all regional and international fronts.

As the sources reveal, the visit will see taking up many issues of bilateral and regional importance. Given that the two sides will deliberate on as diverse subjects as enhancing of economic cooperation to working out modalities regarding Pakistani security guards, from increasing the bilateral trade to supporting each other’s industries show the exceptional mutual trust and understanding. Given that Malaysia is not holding back anything from Pakistan even when the latter is struggling with an economic crisis show the robust engagement between the two countries. Islamabad considers Malaysia an important ally and values the latter’s efforts in supporting Pakistan to come out of the financial crunch.

Hopefully, the Pakistani premier, along with his delegation, have done proper homework before their visit to Mahathir’s Malaysia. This visit will cover the earlier diplomatic faux pas of Pakistan. The tour will surely set aside the fears that many expressed over Pakistan’s pulling out of the KL summit. That much said the government of Pakistan must not limit itself to Malaysia that is one of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ASEAN is home to approximately 550 million people whose living standard is rising over time. The region has remained stable despite receiving the impacts of historical recessions, and the overall economy is on the rise. India has a trade worth more than $12 billion with ASEAN countries, while Pakistan’s trade stands at about $2 billion and that too is highly in favour of member states. It is about time for Pakistan to establish a strong presence in all ten members of ASEAN.