Shah Mahmood’s Nairobi Visit -Step Forward to Enhancing Political-Economic Cooperation with Africa

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Islamabad; 01 Feb 2020 – Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kenya from 29-30 January 2020 to participate in the Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference, jointly organized in Nairobi by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce and Textile. The delegation for the Conference was co-led by the two Federal Ministers, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Abdul Razak Dawood. Over 600 participants from 21 African countries and business delegations from Pakistan attended the Conference, which witnessed highly successful B2B and G2G sessions.

The Conference was inaugurated by the Honorable President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Kenyan President lauded Pakistan’s initiative to host the Pakistan-Africa Trade Conference in Nairobi. He called upon the Kenyans and other African nations to avail of this tremendous opportunity to engage commercially and economically with Pakistan. He added that the potential for development of trade and economic ties between Pakistan and Africa was enormous. President Uhuru Kenyatta also announced that he would be visiting Pakistan soon.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, in his remarks at the Inaugural Session of the Conference, highlighted in detail Pakistan’s “Engage Africa” policy, stating that it was a conscious decision of the Government of Pakistan to move in this direction. He cited Kenya as a “gateway to Africa” and underlined that the hosting of the Conference in Nairobi was its clear manifestation. The Foreign Minister further affirmed that Pakistan and Kenya, and Africa at large, needed to enhance mutual collaboration to strengthen South-South cooperation as well.

The Foreign Minister also held separate bilateral meetings with Cabinet Secretary for East Africa Community (EAC) and Regional Development; Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives; and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The Cabinet Secretaries expressed their appreciation for the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and lauded Pakistan’s initiative for holding the Conference in Kenya. For his part, the Foreign Minister stressed that Pakistan had taken a well-considered and conscious decision to engage Africa more deeply and across a broad spectrum. Pakistan acknowledged that Kenya was the largest trading partner of Pakistan in Africa.

The Foreign Minister added that the “Big 4 agenda” of Kenya was similar to Pakistan’s development agenda and that the two countries could benefit from each other in that regard. The Foreign Minister characterized Pakistan-Kenya bilateral relations as excellent, and underlined the need for translating cordial ties into high level of economic interaction. The Kenyan Cabinet Secretaries affirmed the potential for enhancing trade and economic relations between the two countries. The Foreign Minister identified a number of sectors that would further strengthen relations between the two countries including sister-ports city agreement; air connectivity; and joint shipping line.

In his meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Rachel Omama, Foreign Minister Qureshi exchanged views on myriad facets of Pakistan-Kenya relations. The two sides agreed to work towards taking the relationship to a new level. During the meeting, an MoU on cooperation between the Foreign Service Academies of Pakistan and Kenya was signed.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also visited the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON), where offices of the UN Habitat and UNEP are situated, and met with Director General (UNON) Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Executive Director UN Habitat Ms. Mamounnah Mohammad, and Executive Director (UNEP) Ms. Inger Anderson. He shared the history of Pakistan’s active and constructive role in the UN system, particularly troop contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations. The Foreign Minister stated that Pakistan respected the mandate of the UN and was forthright in implementing its resolutions. The Foreign Minister also apprised them of the latest human rights situation in IoJ&K where abuse and torture have touched heights never seen before. The inhuman lockdown and information black-out had continued for nearly six months. With intensification of human rights violations, the incidence of sexual violence against women was also on the increase.

In the regional context, the Foreign Minister apprised them of Pakistan’s efforts in support of the Afghan peace process, stressing the imperative of reconciliation.

The Foreign Minister’s visit to Kenya is part of concrete steps being taken to realize the Prime Minister’s vision of forging closer political and economic ties with the African Continent and placing a stronger accent on economic diplomacy. Earlier, in November 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had organized an Envoys Conference on “Engage Africa.”

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