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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

Pak urges D-8 to enhance trade, investment within Muslim world

By Iqbal Hussain Khan Yousafzai – Reporting from Islamabad

Islamabad, 14 May, ( Pakistan has called upon the Developing-Eight countries to take a lead for promoting greater trade and investment opportunities within the Muslim world.

Addressing the D-8 Summit in the Indonesian tourist resort of Bali on Saturday, Pakistani Prime Miister Shaukat Aziz said in the last five years, inter D-8 trade has increased from fourteen point four to thirty three billion dollars, demonstrating that they have the capacity to augment trade even further. This growth can be enhanced by extending our trade relations with rest of the Muslim world as we are obliged to do so as members of the OIC.

He welcomed the signing of preferential trade and customs agreements and said we must now focused efforts to ensure the implementation of these agreements. He said Pakistan will be happy to host the first meeting for finalizing an agreement on the rules of origin which will be an important enabling step in their trade facilitation regime. He said D-8 has tremendous human talent with its industrialists and ingenious people. Some countries have great material resources such as oil and gas, the Muslim world stretches from Africa to the Pacific Ocean, has a central and geo-strategic location and comprise a fifth of humanity. He said unfortunately they have not been able to leverage these advantages to their benefit.

Mr. Azizi said we should encourage and promote investment from energy rich Muslim countries to the capital deficient Muslim nations and there should be a greater emphasis on investment and transfer of capital among the Muslim countries.

In his wide ranging address, Mr. Shaukat Aziz referred to the challenges facing the Islamic countries and said there is need to ensure greater unity, sharing of best practices of resources and collectively responding to global challenges by helping each other. He said the Muslim countries must build inter-dependencies and complementarities to create a win win for all. He said the strength of the Ummah lies in unity and collective action as no nation amongst us, no matter how will the and powerful, individually it will always be a disadvantage.

He emphasized the need for projecting the true values of Islam to our detractors. He said the challenge before the Ummah is the negative image that exists about Islam and Muslims in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the actions of a few extremist elements have been wrongly used to tornish the entire Muslim community. Therefore, there is need to project Islam in its correct perspective as a religion of peace, harmony and tolerance. Overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace loving, hard working and law abiding people.

Mr. Shaukat Aziz said the Muslim societies must reform themselves, provide their people with better governance, economic prosperity and social justice.

He said we must revive the spirit of learning and inquiry which had laid the foundations for the glorious Islamic civilization. The Muslim countries must focus on modern disciplines, enhancing the acquisition of scientific and technological knowledge among their people and push the boundaries of knowledge in areas like information technology, genetic engineering and nano-technology.

He said cooperation in the defence sphere is another area which could be explored to promote the collective interests of the Muslim world. He said several Muslim countries including Pakistan have made significant strides in indigenous defence production capacity and we must share these capabilities to enhance our individual and collective security interests.

The Pakistani Prime Minister also informed the D-8 Summit about the efforts made by Pakistan government to reposition and revitalize itself as a dynamic, progressive and modern Islamic state in a fast changing global environment. He said over the past six years through implementation of wide ranging and broad based structure reforms, they have improved governance through transparency and accountability, empowered the people from grass-roots to the provincial and federal levels and particular women and minorities. There is a pro-active opposition and a vibrant free media in the country.

Through economic reforms, he said they have ensured a sustained, upward growth trajectory. Pakistan's growth rate was the second highest in the world last year. All sectors of Pakistan's economy are open for foreign direct investment, foreign exchange reserves are growing, fiscal deficit reduced, per capita income increased and poverty levels are declining.

At the international level, he said Pakistan is playing a pivotal role to ensure peace and security. Pakistan is strategically located at the cross roads between south, Central and West Asia. It is developing road and rail infrastructure as well as air links to serve as a bridgehead connecting all these regions to corridors of cooperation involving oil and gas pipelines, electricity grids, trade and tourism. Our ports at Karachi and the under construction deep water port at Gwadar will provide the shortest accesses to the sea for the land locked countries of Central Asia as well as Western China. These growing linkages will generate intra regional growth and development thus creating conditions for greater peace, stability and progress.

Mr. Shaukat Aziz said in South Asia, Pakistan is pursuing a composite dialogue process with India to resolve all outstanding issues especially the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people.

He said Pakistan is playing a key role in the international campaign against terrorism. He said as a victim itself Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said Pakistan believes that a durable solution to the problem of terrorism requires addressing the root causes of terrorism.

Concluding his address, the Prime Minister said their multi-dimensional cooperation much achieve tangible results in the areas of D-8 activities especially to promote trade and investment among member states. He said Muslim Ummah has great potential and they need to get together to influence their destiny. They must demonstrate the resolve to ensure unity among themselves, open up their minds, learn to collaborate, cooperate and co-exist in a rapidly changing world.

He thanked the Chairman of D-8 and President of Indonesia and said both the countries have a rich history of friendship and cooperation dating back to the support extended by their leaders during their freedom movements.

- Asian Tribune -

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