ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Bahrain Monday vowed to enhance defence and trade ties to strengthen the existing friendly relations.

Bahrain also supported Pakistan’s point of view on Kashmir and urged India to hold dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the dispute.

Addressing a joint news conference here, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Minister of Bahrain Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Mohammed Al-Khalifa said the two countries had unanimity of views on international and regional issues.

Aziz said the two countries have a history of cooperation and this partnership will be enhanced in all fields including defence and trade.

He said Pakistan and Bahrain would expand cooperation in energy, defence, agriculture and higher education. “There was an agreement to activate business council at the earliest between federations of commerce of the two countries.”

Aziz said Pakistan had always supported Bahrain whenever the need arise. The adviser said terrorism was a global threat and Pakistan and Bahrain were united against the menace.

He said the two sides had agreed to support each other against terrorism. “Bahrain has also expressed support on the Kashmir issue,” he said.

He said after the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Pakistan had become more attractive internationally. “There has been an improvement in the security. We welcome investors from Bahrain and other countries,” Aziz added.

The adviser said Pakistan was committed to protecting local and foreign investors and facilitating them to enhance their businesses. Aziz said CPEC project would boost economic activities in Pakistan and the whole region.

Al-Khalifa said his country had signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on cooperation in agriculture and diplomatic service training. He said several other MoUs were also in the pipeline. He called for frequent interaction between Pakistan and Bahrain to forge collaboration in different fields. He said the two sides have good cooperation in defence, economy and political consultations. He said besides discussing further mutual collaboration they also discussed collaboration between Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The foreign minister said the two countries will hold talks on the expansion of business and investment in March.

The Bahraini foreign minister said Pakistan had achieved great success in the fight against terrorism which must be acknowledged at the global level. “We want a dialogue between Pakistan and India. The world must act to help resolving the Kashmir issue,” he said.

Earlier, addressing the Pakistan-Bahrain Joint Ministerial Commission, Aziz said Pakistan greatly valued its long-standing relations with Bahrain. In order to institutionalise bilateral cooperation, Pakistan-Bahrain Joint Economic Committee at the level of senior officials was established in 1983, he added.

Aziz said during committee’s last meeting, several important decisions of mutual benefit were taken especially in the field of economy, finance, banking, information technology, information, industry, manpower, education, culture, trade and investment. “Since then, there has been important progress on all these strands including the conclusion of new MoUs and agreements. However, it was felt that a more focused and enhanced effort was required to translate the gains of discussions on various threads into beneficial projects and outcomes. I am confident that the up-gradation of the forum as ‘Joint Ministerial Commission’ would provide the required thrust to take our bilateral cooperation to the next level,” he added.

Aziz said the historic visit by King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa in 2014 and the return visit by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2015 not only paved the way for establishing the joint commission but also provided fresh impetus to further strengthening of fraternal bonds between our two countries.

“One of the notable outcomes of the King’s visit was his generous gift of King Hamad Nursing University to Pakistan. The project, which has a capacity of training 2,000 students, 500 of them graduating every year, was recently jointly inaugurated by the prime minister and Shaikh Muhammed bin Isa, Commander of National Guards of Bahrain,” he said.

Aziz said Pakistan and Bahrain share several common objectives and have a similarity of views on many international issues related to peace, security, regional developments, terrorism, extremism, regional security, non-proliferation and also support each other in multi-lateral fora like the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the World Trade Organization.

These commonalities, he said, provide a sound foundation to build robust and dynamic relations for the mutual benefit of the people of both countries. “We are passing through difficult times. The Muslim Ummah is faced with daunting challenges of terrorism, extremism, sectarianism which have resulted in a serious security and economic crisis.”

Aziz said in the rapidly changing geostrategic environment, “there is a strong need that Pakistan and Bahrain strengthen mutual cooperation in the fields of defence and security. Establishment of a structured mechanism like the Pakistan-GCC strategic forum would provide an opportunity for regular consultations and cooperation in various fields, particularly close coordination in intelligence-sharing and counter-terrorism, the war on drugs, economic and trade sectors and other areas of mutual interest.”

The adviser said that Pakistan had been one of the first countries to bear the brunt of the scourge of terrorism. “However, today we have achieved relative stability by decisively defeating the terrorist threat in our country. This success is an outcome of the vision and steadfastness of Pakistan’s leadership, the blood and toil of its valiant armed forces, and the enviable resilience and unshakeable faith of its people. Today, Alhamdulillah, as a lead player in the volatile global security environment, Pakistan is a net provider, rather than a net taker, of security in the region. This was made possible by Pakistan’s determined action, since 2014, against all terror networks in the country, without distinction or discrimination,” he maintained.

He said Pakistan had been confronted with energy shortage for the past few years. The present government, he said, had undertaken several projects and initiatives to improve power generation, diversify our energy mix and plug systemic inefficiencies like pilferages and line losses to overcome this acute shortage.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister of Bahrain and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi also held a meeting. Fatemi underscored the importance attached to the bilateral relations which are based on shared perceptions and views on several regional and global issues.

He said the degree to which the leadership on both sides shared views on important issues was amply reflected during the high-level exchanges during last two years. Al Khalifa highlighted Pakistan’s support in the development of Bahrain especially in building its defence and security capabilities.