KARACHI: In a successful diplomatic endeavor, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Iraq has resulted in significant achievements, strengthening the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iraq. The visit, marked by fruitful discussions and engagements, has paved the way for enhanced cooperation and mutual benefits in various sectors.
During the visit, several key milestones were reached, showcasing the commitment of both nations to forge closer ties. The signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) was a notable achievement. One of the MoUs focused on the abolition of visas for diplomatic and official passport holders, streamlining travel procedures for officials from both countries. Another MoU established a partnership between the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and the Iraqi Chamber, aimed at promoting economic cooperation and fostering trade relations. Additionally, a cultural cooperation MoU was signed, aiming to strengthen cultural ties and promote cultural exchange between Pakistan and Iraq.
In a symbolic gesture, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari participated in the laying of the foundation stone for the Pakistan Embassy Complex in Baghdad. This gesture underscored the commitment to strengthening diplomatic ties and fostering long-term collaboration between the two nations.
The inaugural session of the Pakistan-Iraq Business Forum was a significant highlight of the visit. The forum served as a platform for business leaders from both countries to explore opportunities, boost economic cooperation, and facilitate trade exchanges. To further consolidate economic ties, the Pak-Iraq Business Council was established, providing a structured mechanism for enhancing business relations, encouraging investment, and promoting economic growth.
Recognizing the significance of religious pilgrimages, an important announcement was made regarding the establishment of a Pakistan Pilgrim Centre in Karbala. This initiative demonstrates the commitment to facilitating and supporting Pakistani pilgrims visiting Iraq. Furthermore, the opening of a Pakistan Consulate in Najaf was announced, which will contribute to strengthening diplomatic presence and providing consular services to the Pakistani community in the region.
The Iraqi Government’s assurance to extend a flexible visa regime for Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims) and the business community has been welcomed. This commitment will facilitate smoother travel for both groups and foster increased people-to-people exchanges.
During the visit, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari engaged in extensive interactions with Iraqi leadership, including meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Parliament, Interior Minister, Head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and President of the Al-Hikmet Party. These high-level interactions showcased the mutual desire to strengthen diplomatic ties and foster cooperation in various fields.
An important religious meeting took place between Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Al-Najafi. This meeting emphasized the significance of religious and cultural connections between Pakistan and Iraq, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation.
Both nations have agreed to expand bilateral relations in diverse sectors. Cooperation in water management, agriculture, textiles, climate change, education, health, labor mobility, inclusion of Pakistan in the Iraqi Development Corridor, establishing sister port cities relations between Basra and Karachi and Gwadar, defense production, and the health, textile, and pharmaceutical industries were among the areas identified for potential collaboration. The Foreign Minister expressed Pakistan’s commitment to supporting Iraq’s reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, particularly in infrastructure development.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Iraq has successfully solidified diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Iraq. The achievements of the visit lay the foundation for a stronger partnership, increased economic cooperation, and the realization of shared goals for both nations.