50 years of Friendship, Amity, and Cooperation

November 10, 2022 - 09:05

Today is a momentous occasion for Pakistan and Việt Nam as both the countries mark completion of 50 years of their diplomatic relations. During these 50 years, the relationship has evolved dynamically through a myriad of global and regional permutations.

Pakistani ambassador Samina Mehtab wrote to Việt Nam News to celebrate 50th anniversary of diplomatic tie between the two countries:

Today is a momentous occasion for Pakistan and Việt Nam as both countries mark completion of 50 years of diplomatic relations. During these 50 years, the relationship has evolved dynamically through a myriad of global and regional permutations. The relationship today is multi-faceted with political, economic, cultural, and multilateral dimensions. Both countries have always extended a hand of assistance in support towards each other in times of need. It would not be wrong to say that these 50 years have been a story of amity, cooperation, and friendship.

On this significant milestone, if we go down memory lane, we can recall some major highlights of the bilateral relationship. President Pervez Musharraf paid a visit to Vietnam in May 2001 on the invitation of Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải. President Musharraf had meetings with President Trần Đức Lương and Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải. During the talks, both agreed to set up institutional mechanisms for bilateral cooperation to further promote collaboration between the two countries. Prime Minister Khải and President Musharraf also witnessed the signing ceremony of a bilateral trade agreement.

Takht-i-Bahi is the largest and best-preserved Buddhist monastery which was established in the first century of the Current Era. The monastery remained a bustling centre of Buddhist learning in the area from first to the seventh century. Photos Courtesy of the embassy

This visit was reciprocated by Vietnamese President Trần Đức Lương in March 2004 on the invitation of President Musharraf. During his three-day visit, President Trần Đức Lương had meetings with the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. Four Memoranda of Understanding on Foreign Office Consultations, cooperation between the respective State Banks, cooperation between VCCI and FPCCI, cooperation in the field of science and technology, and avoidance of double taxation were also signed during the visit.

As a result of the momentum gained from these visits and in the bid to institutionalize the bilateral economic cooperation, the Bilateral Joint Ministerial Commission and Joint Trade Commission were established in April 2002. Pakistan’s relations with Việt Nam were further consolidated in 2015 when three important meetings - the 3rd session of Joint Trade Commission (JTC), the Inaugural session of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) and the 3rd session of Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) - were held, symbolizing the desire of both countries to enhance relations in all spheres.

If we glance upon the volume of bilateral trade today, it has almost tripled from $331 million in 2013-14 to $907 million in 2021-22 and is expected to reach $1 billion in the near future. It is undoubtedly far below its potential and vigorous efforts to improve it are underway on both sides. In July this year, Pakistan was successfully registered as an exporting country of plant origin products to Việt Nam. It is a welcome move, and bilateral trade will take a significant boost after this. We are also working to register Pakistan as an exporting country of animal origin products and fish & fishery products to Việt Nam.

Pakistan and Việt Nam also enjoy a unique cultural bond due to the Buddhist heritage of Pakistan. Pakistan was indeed the seat of Buddhism evident by the spectacular remnants of the Gandhara civilization scattered all over the country. Today, the Buddhist heritage sites in Taxila, Peshawar and Swat are a huge source of attraction for Vietnamese tourists. Besides religious tourism, Pakistan is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination for Vietnamese adventure tourists. The northern part of Pakistan, constituting the Himalayan, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush Mountain systems, presents some of the most enthralling and beautiful mountains in the world. Pakistan has five peaks above 8,000 meters including K-2 (8,611m), the second highest peak in the world, Nanga Parbat known as Killer mountain (8,125m), Hidden Peak (8,068m), Broad Peak known locally as Falchen kang Ri (8,048m) and GashabrumII (8,035m). The country is rife with beautiful valleys and deserts along with several ancient civilisational sites. Pakistan hosts six UNESCO sites across the country, including the famous Lahore Fort.

The Lahore Fort, locally referred to as Shahi Qila is citadel of the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan and was built in 1566. It is located in the northwestern corner of the Walled City of Lahore in Iqbal Park which one of the largest urban parks in Pakistan. Photos Courtesy of the embassy

Pakistan and Việt Nam have pro-actively collaborated in multilateral fora and have supported each other’s candidatures on United Nations and other international platforms. This support on international platforms is an indispensable element of the bilateral ties and plays a pivotal role in strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Initiatives to step up political, economic, and people-to-people contacts buttressed by goodwill activities like observance of the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations will undoubtedly take the relationship to new heights. Based on the results of the efforts so far, I can very confidently state that if the current bonhomie continues, the friendly relationship will soon morph into a strategic partnership. VNS