ISLAMABAD: The 4th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) between Pakistan and Canada was held on Sunday evening. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood led the Pakistan delegation while the Canadian side was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Morgan. During the BPC, a wide-range of bilateral relations as well as regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest were discussed. Warmly welcoming the delegation, Foreign Secretary noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had conveyed congratulatory messages to their respective Canadian counterparts following the recent elections. He noted that Pakistan and Canada had enjoyed a longstanding, friendly and cordial relationship. He underscored that Pakistan was committed to develop a broader and multifaceted partnership with Canada, with a particular focus on trade and investment. The Foreign Secretary highlighted that Pakistan was firmly focusing on imperatives of geo-economics and pursuing policies that would promote peace, development partnerships, and regional connectivity.
The Foreign Secretary apprised his counterpart of Pakistan’s facilitative investment and trade regime and invited Canadian companies to invest in Pakistan and seek dividends from a large consumer market and robust economic opportunities in the country and the region. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underlined that, as COVID-19 situation was improving, it was imperative that the high-level exchanges between both countries were resumed and the vast potential of bilateral ties was fully realized. The Foreign Secretary highlighted the positive contribution of large Pakistani diaspora in Canada, forming a strong bridge between the two countries. He maintained that there was need to facilitate people-to-people movement between the two countries and hoped that more Pakistani students will be able to travel to Canada under the Student Direct Stream Programme. He particularly emphasized that, given major improvement in the security situation, Canada may revise its Travel Advisory enabling people to travel across both countries and the businesses to grow. In the regional context, the Foreign Secretary shared Pakistan’s perspective on the latest developments in Afghanistan and underscored the importance of continued and positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan for lasting peace and stability. The Foreign Secretary underlined the urgent humanitarian and economic challenges in Afghanistan and stressed the need for immediate steps to mitigate the sufferings of the Afghan people. The release of Afghanistan’s financial assets was another step that would be helpful in this regard. He also cautioned against the forces that could play the role of “spoilers”. The Foreign Secretary also highlighted Pakistan’s perspective on issues of peace and stability in Asia, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. The Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan was a longstanding friend and reaffirmed Canada’s desire to build a multifaceted relationship with Pakistan with increased people-to-people exchanges. She deeply appreciated Pakistan’s assistance in the evacuation of Canadian nationals from Afghanistan and lauded Pakistan’s role in efforts for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. The two sides affirmed their commitment to remain constructively and meaningfully engaged to further reinforce Pakistan-Canada bilateral relations.