Pakistan doesn’t have time for Cold War-style bloc politics: FM

Bilawal meets Japanese Prime Minister

ISLAMABAD  -  Foreign Minister Bila­wal Bhutto Zardari on Monday called on the Japanese Prime Minis­ter Fumio Kishida in To­kyo and discussed with him matters of mutual interests. 

The foreign minis­ter conveyed greetings from the Government and people of Pakistan, according to the min­istry of foreign office’s spokesperson. During the meeting, both lead­ers expressed the de­sire to further enhance bilateral engagement and cooperation in dif­ferent fields.

Foreign Minister Bi­lawal Bhutto-Zardari, who has been on a four-day visit to Japan, on Monday said his coun­try does not have time for “bloc politics” and it rather wants to deliver jobs for the prosperity of its people. 

The remarks by the Pakistani foreign min­ister came during his address with attend­ees at the Asian Devel­opment Bank Institute (ADBI) in Tokyo, where he spoke on the topic “Pakistan and Japan in the Asian Context.” He said the two countries shared important con­vergences in terms of their outlook and vision for the region despite being situated in differ­ent corners of the Asian continent. 

Bhutto-Zardari called Japan the “original Asian success story” and said Pakistan, like other Asian countries, had enormously benefited from Japan’s experience and exam­ple as it had been Pakistan’s key development partner, an im­portant source of foreign direct investment and industrial infra­structure, including its automo­bile industry. 

“As a developing country fac­ing serious economic and en­vironmental challenges, Pa­kistan simply does not have time for the Cold War-style bloc politics that sadly seem to be making a comeback. We want to focus on delivering jobs and prosperity to our 230 million people – two-thirds of whom are below 30 years of age,” he said. 

“We can only do this by lever­aging our strategic location at the crossroads of Central and South Asia to foster econom­ic connectivity and generate growth. This vision is the mov­ing force behind our shift from geopolitics to geo-econom­ics. This is not just a rhetorical change but is rooted in the real­ization that business-as-usual is no longer an option.” 

Bhutto-Zardari arrived in To­kyo on Saturday at the invita­tion of the Japanese leadership. The Pakistani foreign minis­ter has engaged with Japanese leaders, including his counter­part, and met the Pakistani di­aspora in the country, members of the business community, and the private sector. 

The visit by the foreign min­ister of Pakistan, a close ally of China, comes at a time of heightened tension as the Unit­ed States moves to forge closer ties with allies Japan and South Korea to push back against Chi­na’s growing regional influence. 

With regard to the China-Pa­kistan Economic Corridor as a key component of this vision for enhanced connectivity, he said the opportunities created in Pa­kistan’s industrial, agricultural and energy sectors as a result of CPEC and other Chinese proj­ects were not exclusive to any one country. 

“Japanese firms have expe­rience of working successfully and profitably in Pakistan. Their expertise in building infrastruc­ture is second to none,” he said. “By joining hands, we can cre­ate a robust and efficient in­frastructure network, boosting regional connectivity, and en­hancing trade volumes not only between our two countries but also across the entire region.” 

Pakistan, Japan agree to ex­pand bilateral relations in mul­tiple areas

Pakistan and Japan on Monday agreed to further deepen and enhance their mutually bene­ficial bilateral cooperation in multiple areas including trade, investment, human resource development and exchange, IT, tourism and agriculture sectors. 

“We have also jointly agreed to explore the possibility of work­ing together on targeted pro­grams with higher impact in the domains of solarization, desali­nation and water purification and housing and infrastructure rebuilding in the floods affect­ed areas in Pakistan, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in a joint press statement along with his Japanese coun­terpart Yoshimasa Hayashi in Tokyo. Earlier the two minis­ters held a meeting in a cordial environment. Both Ministers appreciated the free bilateral relations while expressing read­iness to engage further.

In addition, the two sides have agreed to conduct language skill assessment tests for the Jap­anese language in Pakistan to facilitate the movement of the skilled workforce.

FM Bilawal said the two sides also identified the import of young Pakistani skilled human resources to Japan and their language training to be a prime area of cooperation. “We also deliberated on investments and joint ventures by Japanese en­terprises in Pakistan.”

During his visit, he said he would also interact with the pri­vate sector, local media as well as think-tanks to further broad­en our engagement. I believe that both sides need to stay en­gaged at all levels to further positive dialogue and contin­ue exploring more avenues of cooperation. The foreign min­ister also invited his Japanese counterpart to visit Pakistan at your convenience to further our discussions. He said Pakistan and Japan were longstanding friends and share a special bond based on deep-rooted linkages that go far in history and time. 

The people of Pakistan carry a deep sentiment of warmth and affection for Japan and the Jap­anese people. We have always stood with each other in times of need, he said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said last year, they had seen new energy and vigour in the re­lationship through continued high-level exchanges. “I also had the honour to meet Min­ister Hayashi at Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 4 August 2022 on the sidelines of the 29th Min­isterial Meeting of ASEAN Re­gional Forum (ARF). Today we continued our discussions from that meeting,” he added.

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