ISLAMABAD -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be undertaking an official three-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina from today (Tuesday) to enhance bilateral ties.

Sharif has been invited by the chairman of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister, Dr Denis Zvidvic, said a foreign ministry statement.

Apart from delegation-level talks with the chairman of the Council of Ministers, the prime minister will meet the chairman and members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s presidency, leaders and members of the lower and upper houses of the parliamentary assembly and the Reisul Ulema, Husein-ef Kavazovic.

The prime minister will also address a business forum and meet with members of the Foreign Trade Chamber and Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Both countries will review the entire range of bilateral relations with a special focus on political, trade and economic ties, inter-parliamentary linkages and enhancing cultural and educational relations.

Sharif will also exchange views with the Bosnian leadership on regional and international issues of mutual concern, the ministry said.

Pakistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoy friendly ties.  In 1992, Islamabad recognised Bosnia’s independence from Yugoslavia and diplomatic relations were established.

During the Yugoslavia wars, Pakistan supported Bosnia and provided technical and military support to the country. The two countries are negotiating a Preferential Trade Agreement and already have a free trade agreement.

In 2012, Pakistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a Memorandum of Understanding for defense cooperation.

After the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan provided medium-tech to high-tech weapons to the Bosnian government.

A government official said that Sharif aimed to enhance cooperation with the Muslim world. “This is a series of our efforts to promote ties with the Muslim countries,” he said.

The official said Pakistan was trying to neutralise Indian attempts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically. Indian attempts to discredit Pakistan have met failure as Pakistan won Russia’s support against India allegations.  US President-elect Donald Trump has also shown signs to improve ties with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson and Secretary Economic Affairs Division Tariq Bajwa on Monday signed the Australia–Pakistan Aid Partnership Arrangement 2016-2025.

The arrangement expresses a shared commitment to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and enhance stability in Pakistan. The arrangement underpins the continuation of Australia’s long-term official development assistance to Pakistan, confirming Australia’s commitment to support Pakistan in building its economic prosperity and to promote sustainable, equitable development.

The Australian Government is providing an estimated AUD47.0 million in total development assistance to Pakistan in 2016-2017. Through this arrangement, Australia and Pakistan jointly acknowledge financial aid to Pakistan through government platforms and support through international organisations and registered NGOs. 

Australia is also providing scholarships for higher education and fostering institutional linkages. “Australia’s aid partnership aligns with and supports Pakistan’s development policy, Vision 2025 as well as Australia’s own development policy of promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability and is aligned with our mutual international commitments, including on gender equality and human rights,” Adamson said.

“The Australia-Pakistan development partnership invests in Pakistan’s human capital, as well as building agricultural productivity and the sustainable management of water,” Adamson added. “Australian engagement in the mango value chain has resulted in better mango production, marketing and distribution, strengthening exports of this iconic Pakistan product.”

Adamson said Australia and Pakistan would continue to partner on  development projects that align with Pakistan’s priority needs, including in agriculture, water resource management, clean energy, health and nutrition. Australian aid also supports Pakistan in times of humanitarian crisis.