Pakistan is set to host a key summit of developing countries later this month – the first high-profile gathering in recent years that seeks to dispel security concerns of international visitors.
The leaders from D-8, or developing countries, will gather in Islamabad on November 22 to discuss important regional and international issues.
The D-8, which was established in 1997 by former Turkish prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, comprises Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Indonesia.
The main purpose of the group is to protect the interest of developing countries in the world economy; diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations; enhance participation in decision-making at an international level and provide better standards of living.
The D-8 countries signed a Preferential Trade Agreement in 2006 at the fifth summit to gradually reduce tariffs on specific goods between member-states, with a supervisory committee overseeing the process.
The combined population of the eight countries is about 60% of the Muslim population and close to 13% of the world’s population. The current trade between the D-8 member states stands at over $70 billion. However, the organisation has so far made little impact at the global level.
A foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune that the government would want to use the upcoming gathering of international leaders as an opportunity to send out a clear message that Pakistan is safe despite many security challenges.
In recent years, international visitors have avoided traveling to Pakistan due to security fears.
Last month, a quadrilateral summit, which was to be attended by leaders from Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, was postponed apparently due to security reasons.
“In this situation, the D-8 summit will help improve the country’s image,” added the official. He added that Pakistan had already sent formal invitations to the member states and all of them had confirmed their participation.
The presence of leaders from Iran and Egypt will most likely invite a lot of international attention.
Egyptian president to visit Pakistan
According to the Foreign Office, Egyptian President Dr Mohammad Morsi would also undertake a bilateral visit to Pakistan on November 23 and 24.
It will be Morsi’s first visit to Islamabad since he was elected Egypt’s president. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who recently visited Egypt, said Morsi’s maiden trip will help further strengthen ties between the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2012.