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Pakistan, Malaysia understand issue of combating Islamophobia: PM Mahathir

ISLAMABAD: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said Pakistan and Malaysia understand the issue of combating Islamophobia.

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Malaysian premier said, “There is fear, enmity towards Muslims and the example of that is Christchurch [attacks].”

“We need to find other ways of combating Islamophobia, I think Pakistan and Malaysia understand this issue. Fighting back doesn’t always mean killing each other. There are other things we can do to reduce this atmosphere of fear, anger towards Muslims,” Mahathir Mohamad asserted.

Regarding his talks with the premier, Mahathir Mohamad said, “We are giving importance to trade with Pakistan and had bilateral discussions on issues affecting the region and the world. If we increase our trade with each other, we will benefit. Today, everyone is focused on growing their economy and it is necessary that we have some wealth of our own in order to function as nations.”

Stating that trade between Pakistan and Malaysia will increase, Mahathir Mohamad said, “We need to identify what you can sell to us and what we can sell to you. We need to know the rules and laws of our countries so we are familiar with them… so the traders find it comfortable to do business in the two countries.”

The Malaysian premier regretted that there is not a single Muslim country that can be considered as developed. “Malaysia planned to become developed by 2030 but unfortunately due to changes in the government it became an impossible target to achieve,” he stated.

Mahatir Mohamad further said, “I think we can exchange information on how to combat corruption in our countries.”

“I am honoured to be attending Pakistan Day,” he added.

Also addressing the press conference, PM Imran spoke about the Christchurch attacks and said, “Islamophobia was deliberately stirred across the world. The Christchurch attacks were also the result of Islamophobia.”

“We will have to change the world’s perception regarding Muslims. Terrorism badly affected Muslim countries,” he continued.

The prime minister appreciated the Malaysian premier for taking a stand for Muslims in the aftermath of the New Zealand terror attacks in which at least 50 Muslims, including nine Pakistanis, were killed.  “

“We also admire you for your stand against corruption. Your comeback was one of the most remarkable comebacks and Pakistan has always looked upon the Malaysian prime minister as a Muslim statesman who changed his country,” the premier told his Malaysian counterpart. “Corruption is a big hurdle in the path of human development. Corruption can make any country poor and weak,” he lamented.

“Corruption is what destroys institutions and takes away money that should be spent on human beings and on human development,” he added.

“Pakistan is facing economic challenges right now and other countries, including Japan, are models for us. I spoke to Mahathir Mohamad regarding how Malaysia moved forward and we discussed bilateral relations,” he added.

“Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to Pakistan is an honour for us,” the premier further said.

Responding to a question, PM Imran said, “In the Muslim world, there are only two leaders who stand out and who actually transformed the society. [One is the] Malaysian prime minister and we watched as Malaysia was transformed. The other was Turkey, under Erdogan. We saw the change in Turkey and the GDP going up.”

In response to another question, PM Imran said, “Pakistan wants to learn from Malaysia’s experience of tourism. Pakistan with vast resources generates nothing from tourism.”

Malaysian PM presented guard of honour

Earlier, the Malaysian premier, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, was presented a guard of honour as he arrived at the Prime Minister House.

A smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces presented the guard of honour to the visiting dignitary as he arrived at the PM House. National anthems of both the countries were played on the occasion.

The Malaysian premier is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Prime Minister Mohamad will be the guest of honour at the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23.

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of industries from Malaysia who wish to invest in Pakistan’s automobile and telecommunications sector will also hold a round table conference. The two prime ministers are expected to speak at the round table conference.

During his visit, the Malaysian prime minister will also meet President Arif Alvi.

Pakistan expecting $900 million investment

Pakistan expects investments of US $900 million during the Malaysian prime minister’s visit of the country.

 “Around $900 million investment is expected on Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s visit of Pakistan,” Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce and Textiles, Industries and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said while addressing press conference along with Chairman Board of Investment (BOI), Haroon Sharif.

The investments would come in different sectors of the economy including telecoms, Information technology and food, he added.

Dawood said Pakistan and Malaysian companies would sign agreements of joint ventures (JVs) worth millions of dollars in telecommunication, technology, automobiles and ‘Halal food sector.

Around 30 Malaysian business giants including leading telecoms and automobile manufacturing companies of the Asian region like the eDoctco group and PROTON Holdings would exchange Memorandum of Agreement (MoUs) with PMCL, Deodar Pvt. Ltd, Telenor Pakistan, CMPak and with PROTON Holdings in automobiles sector.

The adviser said Pakistan and Malaysia would be interested in promoting business to business relations and would also strengthen ties between the private sectors of both countries for tapping investment opportunities.

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