DAVOS, Switzerland: Pakistan and Switzerland on Thursday while noting the rich potential of their bilateral ties called for exploring new avenues of cooperation for mutual benefits.
In a meeting with President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard in Davos on the sidelines of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his desire to strengthen Pakistan’s relations with Switzerland.
Nawaz Sharif is Switzerland to meet world leaders and heads of top corporate companies and share with them the Pakistan success story.
The prime minister said that he deeply values relations with Switzerland, which were based on mutual cooperation, amity and trust. He said that Pakistan looks forward to enhancing bilateral partnership in diverse areas. He said Switzerland was a friend and an important trade and investment partner of Pakistan.
Sharif said that Switzerland’s objective, non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach on Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership was commendable.
“We hope that as part of the NSG troika, Switzerland would continue to maintain this principled stand, especially when it takes over the Chair of the group later this year,” he said.
The Swiss president said that her county’s stance on NSG was non-discriminatory and based on principles.
Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan was committed to facilitate and support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process as envisaged under the Quadrilateral framework.
“We believe that security of Pakistan is directly linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Sharif added.
The prime minister said that Pakistan has continued to host millions of Afghan refugees for more than three decades.
“We are still hosting around 1.5 million refugees and about an equal number of undocumented Afghans,” the prime minister said. “We believe that there is a need to create necessary pull-factors inside Afghanistan for sustained repatriation of Afghan refugees”.
Nawaz Sharif further said that Pakistan wants peaceful and amicable resolution of all outstanding issues with India. He also expressed his deep concern over the recent developments in Indian occupied Kashmir and the gross human rights violations by Indian occupation forces, particularly after the extrajudicial murder of Burhan Wani.
The prime minister said that the international Community should take notice of the gravity of the situation and urge India to respect human rights of the people of Kashmir and implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.
Moreover, the prime minister appreciated efforts of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce, Swiss Global Enterprise (SGE) and Swiss Business Council (SBC) for introducing Pakistan to the Swiss business houses, especially the Swiss SMEs.
The prime minister also thanked the Swiss government for offering postgraduate scholarships to students from Pakistan at various public universities in Switzerland.
In her remarks, the Swiss president lauded the role played by Pakistan in giving refuge to over three million Afghan refugees on its soil and said Pakistan should continue to play its role in promoting good relations with Afghanistan.
The Swiss president said despite the challenges faced by Pakistan, her government was happy to see fast progress made by the country in economy.
Doris Leuthard said that Pakistan was progressing on the right track and said that she appreciates the economic map being pursued by his government to promote stability in Pakistan and in the region. She said that the people of Pakistan and its armed forces have given great sacrifices against terrorism.
The president said the Swiss companies were more than willing to work in Pakistan in such a “positive and enabling” environment. She said that her government was also willing to work with Pakistan in hydro power projects.
Switzerland currently ranks 5th in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan. It has traditionally run a trade surplus with Pakistan and has been one of the country’s biggest direct investors for many years. Many Swiss companies operate in Pakistan, some with their own production sites. These firms are mainly based in Karachi and employ around 12,000 people.