It gives me great pleasure to attend this special function organized by Nepal-Pakistan Friendship and Cultural Association to celebrate the 71st Anniversary of the Independence of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. While expressing my sincere appreciation to the Association for this initiative, I would like to extend warm congratulations and best wishes to the Government and the friendly people of Pakistan on this happy occasion. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Pakistani people for successful conduct of the recent general elections in Pakistan in a democratic way. We look forward to working closely with the new government.
I am happy to note that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960, Nepal and Pakistan have been enjoying cordial and friendly relations characterized by goodwill, mutual understanding and cooperation. Our two countries have been working together at bilateral, regional and international levels to promote mutual interest. Enhanced engagement in the political, economic, cultural and other spheres would further strengthen relations between our two countries and peoples.
There is no doubt that the exchange of visits at high level immensely contributes to further strengthening bilateral relations. In particular, I would like to fondly recall the official visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Nepal in March this year which provided both sides with the opportunity to discuss various matters of mutual cooperation. The visit also held special significance as it was the first one by a foreign head of government after the formation of the present government in Nepal.
As neighbours in South Asia, Nepal and Pakistan share common aspirations for the socio-economic development of our peoples. However, many common developmental challenges confront us in this quest. In order to address such challenges and fulfill our aspirations, there is a need to explore more avenues of deeper cooperation in the coming days.
A peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia is in our interest. As a common platform, SAARC can play a pivotal role in advancing prosperity in the region. What we need to do is to revitalize SAARC. We must make it an organization that delivers tangible outcome. Without deeper integration we cannot enjoy the fruits of regional cooperation. To achieve results, we must focus on core areas of trade, investment, tourism, and connectivity. Nepal always remains proactive in realizing the objectives enshrined in the SAARC Charter and as the current Chair has been working closely with Member States in the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and partnership.
Sustainable economic growth and social development are perquisite to enhance the quality of life of our people. In this context, a meaningful and mutually beneficial engagement between Nepal and Pakistan holds significance. We have good potential in furthering mutual benefit in economic sphere. The current figure of bilateral trade is not reflective of the vast potentials that we possess. In order to further promote economic cooperation, enhanced focus should be laid on strengthening existing mechanisms and simplifying enabling regulations. We also need to ensure holding regular meetings of the joint mechanisms to explore and realize the potentials of further trade, investment, and industrial joint ventures.
It is worth mentioning that there is enormous possibility of further cooperation in the areas of agriculture and tourism between Nepal and Pakistan. More exchanges in the cultural field would help deepen people-to-people relations. Importantly, Nepali students have benefited from higher studies in Pakistan. Seats provided by the Government of Pakistan for medical education have been of great support in building our manpower in this crucial field.
As we explore the possibility of enhancing bilateral economic engagements, the active role of the private sector remains important. At the same time, the mechanisms and linkages established between the business communities of our two countries need to be revitalized.
I am privileged to reiterate that Nepal attaches high importance to its relations with Pakistan. As we strive for deeper and wider bilateral relations, we look forward to continued cooperation and exchanges at different levels in coming days for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples.
Pradeep Kumar Gyawali is the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal. Excerpts of the Statement delivered by Gyawali at the function organized by Nepal-Pakistan Friendship and Cultural Association to celebrate the 71st Anniversary of the Independence of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan