| Under the UN auspices, Pakistani blue helmets, including women peacekeepers,

continue to play their part in peace-keeping and peace-building efforts across the Continent

 

ISLAMABAD           -        Pakistan yesterday said it was committed to embark upon a new, path-breaking ‘Engage Africa’ Initiative toward the African Continent in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foreign policy vision.

A foreign ministry statement said, “Pakistan aims to strengthen political and diplomatic linkages, further deepen and broaden mutually-beneficial trade and economic ties and expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges.”

“Pakistan joins the world community in celebrating the Africa Day 2020. Marking the landmark establishment of the African Union (then called OAU) on 25 May 1963, this Day is observed across the globe to celebrate the African nations’ heroic struggle for emancipation from colonialism, as well as the Continent’s immense cultural and civilizational contributions, its tremendous economic potential, and its impressive strides in all fields of human endeavour,” said the statement.

It added: “One of the most remarkable achievements has been the conclusion last year of the historic agreement on establishing African Continental Free Trade Area, geographically the largest trading bloc.”

“While commemorating AU’s 57th anniversary, we extend heartiest felicitations to the leadership and people of all fraternal African nations,” it said.

“The African Union stands tall today as a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of tens of millions of Africans for forging a united and even brighter future, premised on common values and shared prosperity,” it said.

This year’s Africa Day assumes silence in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is also impacting African countries. The pandemic continues to challenge humanity to close ranks in the face of odds, and persevere to confront a common enemy — virtues aptly embodied by the African Union and its constituent Member States, the statement said.

Pakistan has a long and illustrious history of friendly relations, mutual support and beneficial cooperation with African friends and partners. Historically, Pakistan has played its role in lending support to African freedom struggles from colonial rule; combating apartheid; extending humanitarian assistance, where needed; and supporting building capacity through training programmes and initiatives.

Pakistan is also proud of its contribution to peace and security in Africa since the 1960s. Under the UN auspices, Pakistani blue helmets, including women peacekeepers, continue to play their part in peace-keeping and peace-building efforts across the Continent.

The statement said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was spearheading the realisation of this initiative. As part of this initiative, Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach and presence in Africa is being significantly enhanced, it said.

The resounding success of the first-ever Pakistan-African Trade Development Conference, convened in January 2020 in Nairobi, highlighted the untapped potential of bilateral trade and investment ties, and underscored the mutual desire to take them to a new level, the statement said.

As the world observed Africa Day 2020 while combating the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan reaffirmed its full solidarity and support for the aspirations and valuable endeavours of African nations for peace, progress and prosperity.

“We also reiterate our abiding commitment to forging a stronger Pakistan-Africa partnership that helps advance our shared objectives and takes our fraternal ties and cooperation into a new era,” the statement said.