ISLAMABAD - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan have signed a $200 million cooperation agreement to execute Phase III of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE PAP).

The agreement was signed in implementation of the directives of President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, under the support of  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and the follow-up of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to provide humanitarian aid to Pakistan.

The UAE PAP has been launched with the objective of providing help and humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future. Its mission is to execute development aid projects that offer sustainability and continuous benefits to beneficiaries over the long run.

The agreement, which will be funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), was signed in Islamabad by Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, PAP Director, and Commandant MCE, Major General Anwar Ul Haq Chaudhry of the Pakistani Army, in the presence of Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obeid Al Zaabi.

At the end of the signing ceremony, the UAE representatives presented a memorial plaque to the Chief of Pakistan Army, marking the 51st anniversary of the drive of humanitarian aid for Pakistan initiated by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1967.

Commenting on the agreement, Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, affirmed that the launch of the third phase of the UAE's development and humanitarian projects in Pakistan underscores the commitment of the UAE to stand constantly by the people of Pakistan, affirming that the PAP is a pioneering model and a tangible guide to success of the humanitarian development effort of the UAE leadership.

"The relentless humanitarian and developmental efforts made by the UAE wise leadership are the basic pillars of the country's foreign policy established by the founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and have been maintained by President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan," said the ambassador.

"The relations between the UAE and Pakistan are based on mutual love and respect and they have blossomed into a variety of fruitful partnerships," the ambassador said, considering friendship and close ties between the two countries as the main element of the growing partnership between the two countries.

He added that the second major pillar of the distinctive bilateral relations between the two countries is the harmony in views on issues of regional and global importance.

"Pakistan and the UAE share the same principles of tolerance and inclusiveness as being the main guarantees for peace and stability in the region." The third pillar of these bilateral relations is the "human" factor, which, the ambassador continued to say, is the main element in the UAE's humanitarian policy.

He in this regard cited the schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, water supply projects, roads and bridges established by the UAE in various regions of Pakistan.

"Such projects translate the importance, the UAE leadership attaches to education and health while building communities, with the ultimate goal of grooming generations capable of spearheading their nations in the future."

Al-Zaabi added that Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces have played a prominent role in  eradicating polio from Pakistan.

One more reflection of the historical and distinctive relations between the two countries is the large Pakistani community living in the UAE, which have significantly contributed to the country's development drive and journey of success, the ambassador maintained.

"The UAE-Pakistan model of cooperation is based on remarkable political, economic and trade relations, defense, security and cultural ties, and efficient exchange of experience across multiple domains," he said, noting that the UAE is the largest trading partner of Pakistan in the Middle East, with both countries meeting each other's needs for food security and energy.

Abdullah Khalifah Al Ghafli, Director of the UAE PAP, said that the signing of the cooperation agreement comes in line with the directives of President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow-up of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Pakistan and contribute to the development and support of infrastructure in various regions of the Republic of Pakistan.

"This phase complements the previous phases, under which165 development and humanitarian projects at a cost of $365 million have been established."

Al-Ghafli pointed out that the support and humanitarian initiatives provided by the wise leadership of the United Arab Emirates to developing and needy peoples around the world come in continuation of the humanitarian and developmental approach and values established by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to ensure welfare and prosperity for humanity at large and to support the needy and the poor anywhere in the world.

"Today, as we sign this agreement, we celebrate the Year of Zayed and mark as well the passing of more than fifty-one years since the beginning of the charitable and philanthropic initiatives launched by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1967, in Pakistan. His initiatives included all aspects and areas of giving and aimed to support and promote the process of development and progress and advancement of the people of Pakistan, and to ensure alleviation of poverty in every city and village in this country. The legacy of Sheikh Zayed in Pakistan will continue to reflect his wise vision and exceptional humanitarian principles that are greatly cherished and appreciated by all those who have benefited from his generosity and philanthropic initiatives across years."

Giving details of the humanitarian and development projects to be covered under PAP's third phase, Al Ghafli pointed out that this phase will cover three regions including Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas. It will also include 40 projects covering roads, health, education, water and agriculture domains.

"A field survey has been conducted to identify the key projects and priorities of implementation in each area and region. Accordingly, projects of high importance for the life and future of the population have been selected in keeping with the principles adopted by the wise leadership of the UAE to meet the needs of poor and needy people."

Al-Ghafli stressed that the PAP engineering and technical teams are ready to carry out their tasks and they have already started developing the required plans as well as the engineering and technical studies needed for the projects.

They will start implementation during the coming period through the service companies in charge of execution and in cooperation with the Pakistani army command as per the timeframe of each project.

Al-Ghafli expressed his thanks and appreciation for the support and guidance of the wise leadership, whose directives, he said, have contributed to enhancing the humanitarian and development work in the country.

"The leadership's directives have had a great impact on the development of projects in an exemplary and distinctive manner that ensures lasting and continuous benefit of the Pakistani people, therefore creating an ideal environment for modern education and optimum health services."