ISLAMABAD    -  Pakistan and Bosnia yesterday vowed to multiply cooperation as Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic held talks with the Pakistani leadership here.

Speaking at a joint news conference after a meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic said that the two countries needed to enhance trade and business ties.

PM Khan said the trade between the two countries currently stood at €4.5 million “which is nothing.” He said that during the talks, the two sides had agreed to enhance the volume of trade and business.”

“We will improve the volume of trade and expand cooperation in different fields. Both the sides have decided to hold further deliberations to improve trade and cooperation in every field,” the PM said.

The PM appreciated the principled stance of the Bosnian leader on occupied Kashmir. “India has been taken over by a fascist regime that is not only persecuting innocent people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir but also targeting its minorities especially the Muslims,” he added.

The PM pointed out that the rising trend of Islamophobia was dangerous for the whole globe. He said that freedom of speech should not be used as a tool to hurt the sentiments of any religious community.

He said that any blasphemous remarks regarding Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) caused the greatest pain to the Muslims and the “Western countries must understand it.”

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia said that both the countries had stood by each other in difficult times.

On the Kashmir dispute, Sefik Dzaferovic said human rights of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir must be respected. He also stressed for the resolution of the dispute in line with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Sefik Dzaferovic strongly condemned Islamophobic incidents in the world. He said these were unacceptable and religious feelings of the Muslims should not be hurt. He called for a dialogue to build bridges and evolve unity around diversity.

The Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia said there were great opportunities of cooperation between the two countries in diverse areas including military, agriculture and diplomacy.

Dzaferovic appreciated Pakistan’s success against the COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked Pakistan for offering assistance to Bosnia in fight against the pandemic. He also invited Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Bosnia.

Prior to the media interaction, the two sides signed two Memorandums of Understanding. One is related to scientific and technological cooperation and the other about readmission of their own citizens and the accompanying protocol.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on Sefik Dzaferovic.

Extending a warm welcome to the Chairman on his first visit to Pakistan, the Foreign Minister underlined the fraternal nature of relations between Pakistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina marked by warmth and cordiality.

He added that there was remarkable goodwill for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina among the people of Pakistan. Both the countries had supported each other in times of need.

The Foreign Minister expressed condolences on the loss of precious lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the Covid-19. He apprised Chairman Dzaferovic of Pakistan’s strategy of ‘smart lockdown’ and Prime Minister’s stress on saving lives, securing livelihoods, and stimulating the economy.

Views were exchanged on the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation. It was agreed that a vast potential existed to enhance cooperation, especially in fields of trade and investment, energy, science and technology, defence industry, education, and people-to-people exchanges.

The Foreign Minister underlined the importance of promoting mutual collaboration through optimal utilization of mechanisms of Bilateral Political Consultations, Joint Economic Commission and Joint Trade Committee.  The Foreign Minister also offered training at Foreign Service Academy for the young diplomats from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Foreign Minister Qureshi briefed the Chairman on the grave human rights situation in occupied Kashmir as well as India’s illegal measures to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, which was against UNSC resolutions, international law, and the fourth Geneva Convention.

The Foreign Minister thanked the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina for taking a principled position on the issue.

The Foreign Minister highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and reaffirmed support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned leading to an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

“Both the sides appreciated the strong cooperation at the multilateral fora, especially at the UN. It was agreed to continue such mutual support to each other,” said a foreign ministry statement.