Press Release – Seminar on “40 Years of Friendship- Past, Present and Future between Republic of Korea and Pakistan”

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Press Release
Seminar on “40 Years of Friendship- Past, Present and Future between Republic of Korea and Pakistan”

The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK), held a Seminar on “40 Years of Friendship- Past, Present and Future between Republic of Korea and Pakistan” today. Chief Guest on the occasion was Mr. Muhammad Ali, Minister for Energy, Power & Petroleum. Speakers in the inaugural session included Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director, China Pakistan Study Centre ISSI; Ambassador Park Kijun Ambassador of the Republic of Korea; and Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, Director General, ISSI.

During the Inaugural Session, the Speakers celebrated Pakistan-RoK 40-year diplomatic relationship, while highlighting the myriad facets of the strong partnership in various fields, including economic, educational, cultural cooperation, and ‘Gandhara connection.’ Dr Talat Shabbir in his introductory remarks said that the enduring friendship and collaboration between Pakistan and South Korea, nurtured over four decades, had led to significant progress in bilateral relations. Ambassador Park Kijun, in his remarks, emphasized the historic nature of the occasion, underscoring the robust and amicable ties existing between the two nations.  He highlighted the vast potential for mutually beneficial collaboration in diverse fields.

DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood was of the view that the completion of four decades of Pakistan-Republic of Korea diplomatic ties was, truly, a matter of celebration. He emphasized the extremely friendly and cordial nature of bilateral ties; the steady upward trajectory of the partnership since its inception; and its comprehensive scope, encompassing high-level political and diplomatic exchanges, trade, investments, education, science & technology, defence, cultural cooperation, and people-to-people interactions. The growth in bilateral trade and investments and the increase in Pakistani students studying in South Korea were also noted. Both nations shared an interest in a peaceful and prosperous South Asia and had collaborated in multilateral forums. While celebrating the progress made thus far, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood stressed, it was essential to craft a vision for a robust economic partnership centred essentially on enhanced trade, investments, technology, and green transition.

The keynote address by Minister for Energy, Power & Petroleum Mr. Muhammad Ali emphasized the importance of sustainable energy solutions, research, innovation, and human resource development in advancing shared goals. He highlighted Pakistan’s intrinsic strengths and economic growth potential. The Minister also stressed that, looking ahead, the next 40 years held great promise with new initiatives on the horizon and a steadfast commitment to sustainable solutions, as both nations were driven by a shared vision of prosperity, sustainability and development.

The Working Session I was held to reflect on the 40-year friendship between Korea and Pakistan. The speakers included: Ambassador Nabeel Munir, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Republic of Korea; Ambassador Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to RoK; Ambassador Shaukat Mukadam, Former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea; and Raja Amer Iqbal, Former President of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Ambassador Nabeel Munir highlighted how the two countries shared family values, a deep sense of community, and a millennia-old bond manifested through the Buddhist tradition and Gandhara civilization. He also emphasized the extensive cooperation between Pakistan and Korea, including in the fields of trade, defence, IT, human resources, and infrastructure.

Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch focused on the historical roots of Pakistan-Korea relations, that dated back to the 5th Century. She commended  the contributions of Korean peacekeeping troops in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan believed the two countries could work together to reinforce peace and security in South Asia as well as contribute to understandings that develop peace in the Asia-Pacific. There is a lot we can learn from each other due to our mutual experience of hostile neighbours, she concluded.

Ambassador Shaukat Mukadam termed economic diplomacy as the bedrock of bilateral relations, with both countries working on hydropower, thermal power, and canal irrigation systems. Quoting an expression from the Korean language ‘Pali, Pali’ (Hurry, Hurry), he informed the audience of the work ethic of Korean people that was premised on hard work and fast work. He noted that Pakistan deeply valued economic development cooperation with Korea. Raja Amer Iqbal discussed Korea’s rural development model, focusing on education, skilled education, and developing a knowledge-based and skilled-based economy.

The Working Session II focused on ‘Future Initiatives for Further Cooperation.’ The Speakers included: Dr. Song Jong-Hwan, Former Korean Ambassador to Pakistan; Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC); Dr. Abdul Samad, Director of Archaeology Department, University of Peshawar; Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan, Vice Chancellor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad; and Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder, Former Ambassador to South Korea.

Dr. Samad stressed the need to further the bilateral cultural relations and Gandhara track and to re-establish the missing link that existed before 9/11 between the people of Korea and Pakistan. Dr. Song Jong-Hwan highlighted the increase in positive interactions between the two countries, particularly in trade, investment, and economic cooperation and outlined many areas and specific projects for injecting more content to the relationship. Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan suggested that Pakistan needed to invest in high-end technology and make the best use of national and regional markets to become a food-secure country. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed highlighted the untapped potential in the realm of education and the need for Pakistan to draw inspiration from Korea’s remarkable achievements in fields such as IT, culture, and networking. Ambassador Tariq Osman Hyder proposed that both nations should strengthen cultural connection, actively pursue high-level educational exchanges, establish vocational training centres, and collaborate more in energy sector, including nuclear power generation.

In his concluding remarks, Chairman BoG ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood summarised the points made by all the speakers. He suggested transforming the Korean proposals into reality and utilising the vast potential for future collaboration.