Imran Khan Scott Morrison
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Image Credit: PM Office

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, discussed the COVID-19 successful strategy and huge potential to enhance bilateral ties during a phone call between the two leaders on Monday, the PM Office said. Bilateral matters and international issues of mutual interest including the Afghan peace process also came under discussion.

COVID-19 strategy

Prime Minister Khan appreciated Australia’s “impressive management of COVID-19” crisis and highlighted the unprecedented global health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic. Pakistan’s PM shared that his government’s emphasis during the health emergency had been on “saving lives, securing livelihoods, and stimulating the economy.” He cited the “smart lockdown” strategy and other measures that led to significant containment of the pandemic in Pakistan. Australian PM shared his country’s efforts in managing the coronavirus pandemic.

Khan particularly highlighted the pandemic’s detrimental impact on the economy of the developing countries, for which he had also called for the “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” supported by Australia.

Expand bilateral ties

The two leaders noted that there is immense potential in expanding Pakistan-Australia partnership to further enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in diverse fields. Khan highlighted the prospect for enhanced trade and increased regional connectivity after the commencement of Afghan peace talks. Morrison also noted Pakistan’s positive role in the Afghan peace process. Both the leaders invited each other to visit their respective countries.

Trade, education and cricket

Commenting on the development, Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Geoffrey Shaw, welcomed the phone call between the two leaders in which they discussed “bilateral ties” and successful approaches on COVID-19” by both countries. “We’ll keep building our cooperation on trade, education, security, development, and cricket” which is a shared Commonwealth heritage, he said in a tweet. PM Khan also expressed hope for the resumption of Pakistan-Australia cricket series as the COVID-19 situation improves.

Pakistan-Australia ties
• Pakistani population in Australia has increased to 91,000 in 2019, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). They are mostly skilled migrants, professionals and students.
• Pakistan-Australia trade and investment relationship has improved steadily over the past decade. The two-way trade was worth $1.83 billion in 2017.
• Australia’s major goods exports to Pakistan are pulses, oilseed, fertilizer and scrap metals. Major imports from Pakistan are textiles, rice and petroleum.
• Both countries are exploring ways to expand trade in agribusiness as well as IT and communications, processed foods, clean energy, medical technologies, infrastructure investment, and mining equipment, technology and services (METS).
• Pakistan and Australia regularly hold dialogues between senior leaders from respective militaries, government agencies and think tanks.
• Australian Federal Police has a 27-year relationship with Pakistan law enforcement agencies. Military cadets from each country also attend specialized courses in defence institutes of Pakistan and Australia.
• The two states are also bolstering cooperation to combat transnational crime, such as terrorism financing and illegal migration.