Addressing a joint news conference in Maley, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says both the countries are unanimous in enhancing cooperation in all areas including trade, education, defence, tourism, and people to people contacts. India has harmed the SAARC and undermined the spirit of the regional forum. Pakistan is ready to extend all possible cooperation to Maldives for the welfare and development the people. The countries have signed Memorandum of Understandings in various fields like trade, tourism, education, capacity building of civil servants and training for diplomats. Earlier, a formal welcoming ceremony in honor of the Prime Minister was held at President's office, where Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom greeted him.

Analysts on Telephone:

Dr. Mirza Ikhtiyar Baig (Economist)

Maldives is a beautiful tourist destination. This is Small Island but many tourists from across the world come here. This is main source of earning but Maldives wants to work on other avenues as well. The Prime Minister wants to shift Pakistan from traditional to non-traditional markets. He has taken members from business community with him to Maldives. He wants them to study various sectors of cooperation between the two countries. Maldives has endorsed Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir and it is a significant development.

Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar (Former Ambassador)

This visit of the Prime Minister to Maldives is very important. Despite many hardships domestically, the Prime Minister visited Maldives. Maldives is an important country near Indian Ocean. It carries acute significance for commercial and strategic objectives of Pakistan. It is responsibility of Pakistan to protect Maldives. We have ideological and emotional attachment with the people of Maldives. Maldives wants a helping hand from Pakistan in training diplomats and bureaucracy.

Dr. Noor Fatima (IR/Economic Expert)

At present, countries want economic and cultural engagement with others. Pakistan is also presenting itself as a market to other countries. Also, it is looking for trade routes to other markets. Pakistan wants engagement with regional countries at many levels. Pakistan wants to share its development with other regional countries as well. Our young people can go and work in other countries. Pakistan is working for regional integration. All regional countries are observing negative role of India in the region. Pakistan has made successful diplomatic efforts and world is supporting its stance on Kashmir now.

Humayun Iqbal Shami (Economic Expert)

Maldives is a SAARC member country and we should have cooperation with it. It is a small country and its economy is based on tourism. It is becoming a financial center because of its attractiveness. Due to inavailability of land, it fulfills agricultural and other needs from other countries. Also, it imports things of common usage from other countries. Pakistan can export multiple things to Maldives at large scale. Pakistan should sign free trade agreement with Maldives. This is a huge opportunity for Pakistan.

Host: Dr. Shoaib Ahmed

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