ISLAMABAD: Though the image of Pakistan in the world is one dominated by talk of terrorism, the hospitality and humanitarian values of its people can help fight that misrepresentative image while its sacrifices have been appreciated.
This was stated by Japanese Ambassador Takashi Kurai at a Public Talk held at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on Tuesday.
“We appreciate Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in War on Terror (WoT),” Kurai said as he appreciated the improving security and the overall economic situation of the country.
“We also value Pakistan’s efforts in strengthening democracy and expect the country will continue to do so.”
Talking about the bilateral relations between the two countries, Kurai said Japan assigns a high value to its bilateral relations with Pakistan since the nature of their cooperation is multidimensional.
“Japan-Pakistan relations are embedded in three main elements: business, aid and, politics and security,” the envoy explained.
He pointed out that Japan has helped Pakistan in areas of humanitarian assistance, social security and infrastructure development.
“Of these projects, the Indus Highway is the flagship project — which connects Peshawar to Karachi, stretching across 1,200 kilometres, and it has been done with Japan’s assistance. It will be completed in June 2018,” he hoped
Speaking about Official Development Assistance (ODA), he remarked that, “ODA does matter but the security situation is more important.”
With Pakistan and Japan’s primary ties lying in trade, Kurai pointed towards the massive import-export gap between the two countries. Lauding the quality of Pakistani textile goods, he called for increasing their
exports to Japan to reduce the import-export deficit.
Furthermore, he was of the view that for bilateral trade to grow, security, infrastructure and business environment were the key factors.
Talking about the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he sought to allay some fears.
“We are not against CPEC, we appreciate this initiative but, at the same time, we believe whatever project is carried out should be based on transparency, openness, accountability. We have made it clear that we may be open to help in furthering this project,” Kurai offered.
Earlier, ISSI Chairman Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that Pakistan-Japan relations have deep roots in the ancient civilisation of Gandhara.
He also touched upon the history of bilateral relations between the two countries which began with the ratification of the San Francisco Treaty.
Pakistan, he said, supported Japan at many international forums and at one point, Pakistan was the largest exporter of textile items to Japan, while Japan was the largest exporter of machinery and vehicles to Pakistan.
He also pointed towards Tokyo’s changing nuclear policy and cited the Indo-Japan nuclear cooperation for the peaceful purposes and emphasised that any discriminatory approach would be unjust and Pakistan should not be made an exception in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2017.