On her first visit to Pakistan as Foreign Minister, Ms. Julie Bishop held meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss the growing strength of bilateral partnership and important regional and international issues.
She also held meeting with her counterpart, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr Sartaj Aziz, and the Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan to discuss Australia’s commitment to continued cooperation with Pakistan on counter terrorism, transnational crime, development and the disruption of illegal people movements.
Defence and security cooperation between Australia and Pakistan will form the basis of discussions with the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
Australia and Pakistan explore opportunities to boost trade and investment links, including in the agricultural, education and energy sectors.
Ms. Bishop discussed Australia’s long-standing development assistance with Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal.
In Lahore, she met the Governor of the Punjab, Mr Shahbaz Sharif, to discuss key Australian development initiatives in Punjab Province.
Ms. Bishop also spoke to influential Pakistani women from government, diplomatic, business and the community sectors with a focus on gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and the elimination of violence against women. She also announced a skills training program for marginalized women and girls to improve entrepreneurial skills and provide access to finance.
Ms Julie Bishop meets Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Earlier during the day, Foreign Minister of Australia Ms Julie Bishop also met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Prime Minister House.
During the meeting PM Nawaz said that Pakistan and Australia enjoy close and cooperative relations in all fields and he wished to strengthen them in the years to come.
Ms Bishop informed the premier that this is her first visit to Pakistan after becoming foreign minister.
She appreciated the government’s reform agenda which has resulted in economic growth and increased job opportunities across the country.
PM Nawaz said, “All economic indicators of the country are quite encouraging. Our growth rate is increasing gradually, which we expect to go further up in the coming years. Foreign exchange reserves have almost doubled during the tenure of this government. Stock market is one of the best ones in Asia; industry is growing and agriculture sector is showing positive signs with good wheat and cotton crops,” he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s economy has suffered badly at the hands of terrorism which is why the decision to to launch an operation against terrorists had been taken.
He further said that, “The operation is going on successfully and has almost eliminated their network, hideouts and sanctuaries. Those who kill innocent people do not deserve any mercy.”
“Over the years, thousands of lives have been laid down in this cause and will not rest until we completely eliminate the entire network of terrorists and their abettors,” he added.
The visiting foreign minister said, “There is lot of potential that is yet to be realised, especially among the business communities of the two countries as well as exchange of high-level delegations, people-to-people contact and parliamentary exchanges. “
Nawaz appreciated the support and cooperation of the Australian government, including that for the Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs).
He said Pakistan’s industry is suffering due to lack of energy and the government is taking urgent steps to meet the shortage. Nawaz also expressed confidence that power outages would be done away with during the tenure of his government.
Ms Bishop thanked Pakistan for extending cooperation to Australia in important fields of counter terrorism as well as efforts to eliminate drug trafficking, trans-national crime, human smuggling and organised crime.
PM Nawaz said Pakistan would be pleased to extend more cooperation in all these fields.
Bishop said Australia hopes that initiatives taken by the PM would help improve relations between India and Pakistan leading to resolution of long outstanding disputes.
She also invited the premier to visit Australia at a time of his convenience proposing to bring along a business delegation so that the focus of the visit remains strengthening of economic and trade ties.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Azaz Ahmed Chaudhry also attended the meeting.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr. Peter Heyward was also present during the meeting.
Australian foreign minister meets Pakistan’s army chief
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met Army Chief General Raheel Sharif at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and discussed issues relating to defense and security — including Afghanistan and regional security.
During the meeting, Bishop lauded the services of Pakistan’s armed forces in the war against terrorism and assured Australia’s full cooperation to Pakistan in countering terrorism.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) briefed Julie Bishop about the progress and achievements of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists.
She was also apprised that Pakistan and Afghanistan are closely cooperating in the war against terrorism, and that forces of both sides have conducted coordinated operations along the Pak-Afghan border.
Bishop appreciated growing understanding and cooperation between Islamabad and Kabul. She said Pakistan’s role in peace and stability of Afghanistan is very important.