ISLAMABAD - Chairman of the ASEAN Committee in Islamabad (ACI) and Malaysian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador Mohammad Azhar Mazlan on Wednesday praised Pakistan’s central role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), highlighting that the members appreciate Pakistan’s partnership and support in ASEAN’s efforts towards community building.
“I am confident that this partnership will foster deeper engagement and interactions between ASEAN and Pakistan in meaningful cooperation across the three pillars of ASEAN, namely the ASEAN Political Security Community; ASEAN economic community and ASEAN socio-cultural community,” he said at an event here on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Islamabad.
The event was also attended by Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Dr Asad Majeed, Head of the Diplomatic Delegation and Ambassador of Turkmenistan to Pakistan and the Heads of ASEAN Delegations.
He said ASEAN-Pakistan cooperation has expanded to various fields, including trade and investment, agriculture, education, culture and tourism, capacity building and technical cooperation.
“I would like to cite the ASEAN- Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in 2013, as a testament to the strengthening of economic ties between ASEAN and Pakistan,” he added. According to the envoy, by 2022 the total trade turnover between ASEAN and Pakistan will reach $11 billion.
Ambassador Mazlan expressed deep gratitude to all those who have contributed to the remarkable success of the ASEAN-Pakistan partnership. With an optimistic outlook, he pointed to the potential for a brighter and more hopeful shared future.
Looking back at the birth of ASEAN 56 years ago, Ambassador Mazlan emphasised the organisation’s central role in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region. He recalled the historic meeting of the foreign ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, where they signed the ASEAN Declaration, laying the foundation for further development of ASEAN into a very effective intergovernmental body.
He pointed out that ASEAN, with a combined GDP of more than $3 trillion, was on track to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050. He also noted the attractiveness of ASEAN as a magnet for attracting foreign direct investment, a testament to successful regional economic integration.
Mazlan emphasised the importance of signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2020 with five trading partners, which further strengthens ASEAN’s position as a model of “open regionalism.
Acknowledging the positive impact of cultural exchanges and people-to-people exchanges, including initiatives such as the ASEAN Cultural Festival and scholarships, he emphasised that these efforts have enriched understanding and How to foster lasting friendships.
Mazlan called on stakeholders to constantly strengthen friendship and cooperation, supporting innovative strategies to tackle common challenges, including climate change, terrorism and public health crises.
On the occasion, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Dr Asad Majeed Khan commented that ASEAN had undergone a significant transformation since its inception.
What started out as a small group of countries, he added, has grown into one of the most influential regional cooperation organisations, with an impressive GDP in excess of $3 trillion.
Highlighting the economic capacity of ASEAN, he noted that it is the world’s fifth largest economy and is on track to take the fourth place by 2050. He especially emphasised Pakistan’s strong involvement with ASEAN after achieving industry dialogue partner status in 1993.
Asad Majeed Khan highlighted Pakistan’s unique position as the oldest dialogue partner in the field, maintaining that status for nearly three decades.
He expressed Pakistan’s commitment to deepening its partnership with ASEAN, acknowledging the great value of Pakistan in improving relations not only with ASEAN as an entity but also with each member individual pellets.