NBP reports Rs 8.5 billion pre-tax, pre-provision profit

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KARACHI: The Board of Directors of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has approved the financial statements of the bank for the three months period ended March 31, 2015.

The bank in first quarter 2015 recorded pre-provision profit of Rs. 8.5 billion , an increase of 57% from comparative period last year . Pre-tax profit amounted to of Rs. 5.0 billion which is higher by 14% from the corresponding period last year. After tax profit amounted to Rs.3.3 billion as compared to Rs 3.1 billion for the same period last year showing an increase of 4.2%.

Despite reduction in interest rates, net interest income increased from Rs. 8.6 billion in first quarter of 2014 to Rs. 10.5 billion in of 2015 reflecting an increase of 21% due to increase in balance sheet size. Non-interest income is Rs. 8.4 billion, higher by Rs. 4.3 billion or 29 %.

Compared to March 2014, deposits have increased by around 12%, while advances marginally increased by 0.4%. From December 2014, advances have declined by 2.9% mainly due to seasonal adjustments. The bank is focusing on reducing the non-performing loans through restructuring. The bank is strongly capitalized with capital and reserves of Rs. 166.8 billion, which translates into break- up value per share of Rs.78/- per share.

Mobilizing low cost deposit especially CASA with major emphasis on increasing current accounts is one of the top focus areas and we believe that the bank can significantly improve the growth by leveraging its existing customer base and improving existing products delivery.

Core Banking Application (CBA) rollout in 1,100 plus remaining NBP branches is under implementation in 2015 to utilize maximum benefit of automation and facilitating NBP customers with enhanced services. This year we have converted 180 additional branches on CBA taking total branches on the new platform at 453. The bank plans to add 1,000 ATMs to its network by 2015, out which 250 ATM project is under implementation and remaining 750 ATMs are planned to be installed by the end of 2015.

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SECP suspends trading of KASB Bank shares amid rumour of management change

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ISLAMABAD, April 30:  The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) issued directions on April 30, 2015(Thursday) to all the three stock exchanges to immediately suspend the trading in the shares of the KASB Bank Limited.

The trading was suspended in the interest of investors as the regulator observed an abnormally high volume in the shares of KASB Bank Limited in last few days.

On initial enquiry, it was observed that there were rumors in the KSE about the change in management and control of the Bank from existing management to some Chinese investor, which is generating excessive volume in the market. SECP issued direction to the Bank on April 23, 2015 to clarify the true position about the speculated change in management through the stock exchanges before opening of the market on April 24, 2015.

On direction of the SECP, the Bank clarified through notice to the stock exchanges that the Bank has not received any directive from any concerned quarters about the future course of action for the Bank or about the management changes that are being speculated and rumored and that the Bank is presently operating under the conditions of the moratorium imposed on it by the Federal Government. This clarification was disseminated to the investors on the websites of the Stock Exchanges on April 24, 2015 at 9:24 A.M. i.e. before opening of the market at 9:30 A.M.

However, it has been observed that despite clarification from the Bank the trading volume in the shares of the Bank remained very high as compared to its normal trading pattern. On April 29, 2015 Bank Islami Pakistan Limited and KASB Bank made announcement through stock exchanges that the State Bank of Pakistan has started the process of amalgamation of KASB Bank with and into Bank Islami at a token nominal value and that the scheme shall be considered by the board of directors of Bank Islami in its meeting at 2:00 p.m. Bank Islami after the conclusion of its BOD meeting placed the scheme of amalgamation on its website through which it was learnt that keeping in view the negative breakup value consideration of Rs.1,000 only was determined for the entire shareholding of KASB Bank.

It is important to note that in terms of prudential regulations issued by SBP entire shareholding of sponsors of the Bank which stood at 1.65 billion shares out of 1.95 billion shares, which is around 85% of the total paid up capital of the Bank, remained in blocked account and they were not available for trading at any time.

State Bank denies secret deal with Chinese investor on KASB bank

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KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan as part of its mandate is responsible for protecting the interest of depositors and ensuring stability of the banking system. Fulfilling its mandated responsibilities State Bank assesses fitness and propriety of every prospective investor in a bank beyond a defined threshold (currently 5%), so as to ensure that the investor is capable of fulfilling the fiduciary responsibilities and can be entrusted with the license to collect public deposits.

Due to persistent losses for the last five years KASB bank’s equity had eroded significantly and was much below the regulatory Minimum Capital Requirement, its Capital Adequacy as of 30-09-2014 has also turned into negative thus technically rendering it insolvent. Because of the weak financial health of the bank and inability of its sponsors to meet capital requirement of State Bank, in the best interest of the depositors and other stakeholders, had to request Federal Government to place the bank under moratorium.

The Federal Government imposed the moratorium on the bank and also directed State Bank to prepare a scheme of reconstruction / amalgamation in accordance with the law.

The sponsors of the bank filed a writ petition against the State Bank of Pakistan and others at Islamabad High Court; however, the petition was subsequently withdrawn unconditionally.

State Bank of Pakistan has noticed that post withdrawal of the petition rumors have been spread that some Chinese investors have struck a deal with State Bank of Pakistan. State Bank denies any such deal and clarifies that a Chinese investor approached State Bank through the bank’s existing shareholders. SBP informed the prospective investor to establish its bonafide and has to clear Fitness and Propriety criteria.

They wre also guided about the position of the bank and information required to be submitted in order to assess their request. However, they could not submit any of the required information. An entity whose beneficial ownership is not clear cannot be entrusted with the license of a bank.

Although the prospective investor under discussion has indicated to bring in some investment by May 13, 2015 but in view of the quantum of deposits of the bank and the Minimum Capital Requirement the committed amount of investment is very meager.

Further, the prospective investor did not share any information about how and from where the funds would be mobilized.

State Bank of Pakistan, always welcomes the Foreign Direct Investment, however, this can be accepted only within the bound of laws and regulations prevalent in the jurisdiction. State Bank of Pakistan reassures the public at large that it is committed to strengthen the banking sector of the country.

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Provinces get 1600 billion under revised NFC mechanism

Dar n Malik BalochHarry Javed, ISLAMABAD: Inaugural meeting of 9th National Finance Commission was held here Tuesday. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting which besides Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch, Chief Minister, Balochistan and Finance Ministers of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was also attended by Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Dr. Kaiser Bengali (Balochistan) and Dr. Aisha Ghaus Pasha (Punjab), Federal Finance Secretary, Finance Secretaries of the Provinces and officials of NFC Secretariat.

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At the outset, the Chair, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar welcomed all the participants to the inaugural meeting of the 9th NFC. The Finance Minister underlined the need to take into account significant expenditures the country is expending on fighting war on terror including significant enhancement n capacity building of Law Enforcement Agencies in the aftermath of Peshawar carnage. He also emphasized the need for improving overall resource-base, so that these rising expenditures can be met. Furthermore, he also stated that there was a need to carefully improve the efficiency and coordination in respect of recently constituted Revenue Authorities and provincial taxes having inter-provincial bearings, so that businesses are not adversely affected due to jurisdictional issues.

The participants were given a detailed presentation on the constitutional status, history and evolution of the NFCs. The meeting was informed that the NFCs constituted in 1974, 1990, 1995 and 2005 had presented their recommendations, however, the NFCs constituted in 1980, 1985 and 2000 could not make recommendations for an Award. The 8th NFC set up in 2010 during its tenure monitored implementation of the 7th NFC Award.

A brief assessment of the 7th NFC Award was also placed before the Commission. The Commission was informed that during the 7th NFC period, transfer of resources from Federation to provinces increased substantially. The transfer of resources from federation to provinces was visible from the fact that against Rs.677 billion transfered to Provinces in FY 2009-10 (Pre-NFC last financial year), during the current financial year, provinces will be receiving close to Rs.1600 billion (which is more than double). As a result the fiscal position of provinces had been strengthened compared to the Federal Government. The Commission was also informed that the 7th NFC Award projected increase in overall revenues to 15% of GDP, but in fact this appeared to have remained stagnant if not decreased.

Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Masood Khan gave an overview of macroeconomic indicators. He informed that all major indicators were positive and the economy of the country was on the right track. Inflation was dropping and remittances from overseas Pakistanis were increasing.  All the participants appreciated the improved economic outlook and expressed support for bringing about further improvement in the economy.

The Chief Minister, Baluchistan, Provincial Finance Ministers as well as the expert members spoke on the occasion and appreciated the turn-around visible in economy. They expressed the hope that the Commission will succeed in arriving on a consensus recommendation at the earliest.

The Commission agreed to undertake detailed background work in the following areas through constituting Sub-groups:

1)   Resource Mobilization at Federal & Provincial Level

2)   Devolved versus Integrated Tax Structure – Evolution of Tax Collection Framework in Pakistan

3)   Allocation efficiency and expenditures Analysis at the Federal and Provincial level.

4)   Rationalization of subsidies and grants.

The Subgroups were asked to complete their work in the light of which further work of Commission will proceed.

Inflation dithers to 12 years low level, 2.5% in March

IshaqDarHarry Javed/ISLAMABAD:

The meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee was held here Tuesday with Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization in the chair.

The meeting was informed that inflation had come down to 2.5 % during March 2015, which is the lowest in last 12 years. The decline in inflation is broad-based as food inflation is recorded as 0.5%, non-food is 3.9%, while core inflation is 5.9%, sensitive price index is -1.9% and wholesale price index is -3.7%.

The Finance Minister emphasized that provinces should play proactive role and make extensive administrative interventions to further ease the price level and also devise a comprehensive plan to improve the supply situation of essential items at reasonable prices in the coming month of Ramzan. He also advised the provincial governments to take proactive measures and identify where they need assistance from the Federal Government. The Federal Government is ready to provide maximum support at all levels for the benefit of common man in the country.

The Finance Minister, however, showed concern over the rising trend in the prices of pulses and dairy products. The Minister directed Ministry of Food Security & Research to give a comprehensive presentation, made under the directions of the Chair in the last meeting, on the measures for attaining price stability and overcoming demand and supply gap in the production and consumption of pulses and other minor crops.

Finance Minister directed Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to give a comprehensive presentation in May after concluding their investigation on the differences and unnecessary rise in the prices of milk and pulses as already directed in the previous meeting of NPM committee.

The Chair emphasized for expediting the process of Executive Magistracy System. The Ministry of IPC informed that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) approved in principle, the proposed Amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) 1898 for restoration of Executive Magistracy and to place the draft Bill in this regard before the Parliament. Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights and all three provincial Government of Sindh, KPK and Punjab have supported the proposal and have shown their consent to become a party in the appeal filed in the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan by Government of Balochistan and all provinces have become party to the petition being heard in the Supreme Court.

The Chair directed the provinces to devise a mechanism to eliminate inter-provincial price disparity. The meeting was informed that the SPI for the week which ended on 23rd April 2015 decreased by 0.14 percent. Out of 53 items, prices of 11 items registered increase (Onion 12.53%, Bananas 2.03%, Mash Pulse 1.20%, Milk Fresh 0.64%, Garlic 0.23%. Moong Pulse 0.08% while prices of Rice Irri-6, Bread Plain, Beef, Mutton, Milk Powdered Nido, Gram Pulse, Kerosene Oil, Petrol, Diesel), while prices of 15 items decreased (Tomatoes 13.87%, Chicken Farm 7.32%, Potatoes 5.00%, Eggs 3.96%, LPG 2.46%, Cooking Oil (Tin) 1.26%, Vegetable Ghee (Tin) 1.10%, Wheat 0.66%, Rice Basmati broken 0.63%, Wheat Flour 0.41%, Mustard Oil 0.32%.Red Chili Powder 0.28%, Vegetable Ghee (Loose) 0.25%, Masoor pulse 0.22% and Sugar 0.14%) and prices of 27 items remained stable.

The Chair was also informed that as compared to March 2014, in March 2015 the prices of certain items have recorded significant decrease (wheat 13.9 percent, wheat flour 10.4 percent, Chicken 19.3 percent, Eggs 21 percent, Potatoes 45.6 percent, Onion 15.5 percent, Tomatoes 1.6 percent, Garlic 2.3 percent, Rice Basmati 4.2 percent, Rice Irri-6 6.8 percent, Mustard Oil 3.3 percent, Cooking Oil 7.0 percent, Vegetable Ghee (tin) 4.78 percent and Vegetable Ghee (loose) 10.4 percent).

The chair appreciated the Sasta/ saholat bazaar initiative which is offering 15% low prices to the consumers as compared to the open market and asked the administration to facilitate these bazaars.

Dar inaugurates $150 million Yamaha Motorbike plant

Yamaha to export 125CC and above capacity bike to America

Dar at YamahaHarry Javed, KARACHI:

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday inaugurated state of the art Yamaha motorcycle plant which brings in investment of USD 150 million. Dar also welcomed the Japanese company’s return to Pakistan with the new venture.

“We welcome the initiative of establishment of Yamaha Motor Cycle plant which has the honour of being first enterprise in Bin Qasim Special Economic Zone”, Dar said addressing the inaugural ceremony also attended by senior Yamaha company officials, Minister for Privatization, Muhammad Zubair, Chairman BOI, Miftah Ismail and Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Hiroshi Inomata. The Minister visited the assembly line of the plant after cutting the ribbon and unveiling the plaque, marking the inauguration.

The new plant would provide job opportunities to 45,000 people, directly and indirectly. The company plans to produce motorcycles of 125 cc and above in this production facility and export them to distant markets like Latin America, increasing the export earnings of Pakistan.

The Minister in his address said that the establishment of Special Economic Zones was the main pillar of PML-N Government’s Investment Policy. The Government had equal and non–discriminatory treatment to local and foreign investors. Almost all sectors of economy were open for foreign investment with 100% equity basis and repatriation of investment, profits/ dividends and capital gains was allowed, he said.

 

The Minister also on this occasion dilated on the state of economy saying that with commendable efforts and various policy initiatives, the economy had been put on the right track. The growth rate was projected to rise to 5.1% during 2014-15. The tax revenues showed an upward trend and revenue growth of 13% in the period July-March 2014-15 was witnessed compared to last year, despite a massive decline in oil prices. He said the reduction in inflation had enabled the State Bank of Pakistan to reduce the Discount Rate to 8% which was lowest in the last ten years.

He said that SBP reserves were now over US$ 12.5 billion while commercial banks’ reserves exceed US$ 5 billion. The balance of payments position would improve further and the current account deficit would be brought to less than1% of GDP. The Karachi Stock Exchange Index which stood at 19,916 on 11th May 2013, the day the elections were held, had continuously scaled new heights and stood at 33, 490 on 22nd April 2015, showing an increase of nearly 68%, the Minister said.

Dar said Moody’s had improved Pakistan’s rating outlook first from negative to stable and then, more recently, from stable to positive. Moreover Japan’s Trade Organization JETRO, the British economist Peter O’Neil and Morgan Stanley have all predicted that Pakistan would soon be one of the most significant economies in the world.

The Minister congratulated Yamaha Motor Pakistan (Pvt) Limited, BOI and other relevant stakeholders for their efforts in materializing this project.“I must appreciate the firm commitment shown by Yamaha, Japan for bringing this project on ground.”

CLARKS Grand store launched in Pakistan

KARACHI: April 26 acting Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission Ms.Gillian Atkinson-cutting ribbon to inaugurate CLARKS GRAND store OPENING at Karachi.

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CLARKS Grand store launched in Pakistan

KARACHI: Clarks opened its first ever store in Pakistan last week, in April 2015, bringing its range of beautifully versatile and expertly crafted footwear with effortless British style to the city of lights, Karachi at The Forum Shopping Mall, followed up with stores opening in Lahore and Islamabad.

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The store gave a premium retail experience to its customers with Clarks signature collections and styles for both men and women. The store was inaugurated by the acting Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission Ms.Gillian Atkinson, followed by an opulent fashion presentation showcasing the latest in-store collection adorned by renowned models including Areeba Habib, Abbas Jafferi and Shahzad Noor.

C&J Clark International is a great British brand that has an impressive and unique heritage in shoe design that stretches back almost 200 years. The Clarks Company was born in Britain and still remains head quartered in the UK. It began in 1825, in a small cottage in the tiny English village of Street, Somerset. Soon, The Clarks launched their first ever shoe designed to fit the shape of the foot; an innovation that is still the bedrock of the Clarks brand reputation today.

Till date, The Clarks brand has been manufacturing, designing and selling stylish, premium quality shoes fit for all fashion savvy individuals. Clarks is also well-known for its celebrity clientele and collaborations with high-fashion designers.

Nancy Huang, C&J Clark International President of Asia Pacific comments; “It’s always great to see a new Clarks store open especially when it’s in such a good position within a premium shopping mall. The Clarks Pakistan team and our partners have done a magnificent job getting the store open and looking amazing.  We are in great company here in The Forum Mall; it’s an impressive shopping destination with a fantastic mix of brand names and customers. We are delighted to be a part of it.”

The credit for Clarks launch in Pakistan goes to the much known Umer Group of Companies, the parent company for bringing up the international brand to Pakistan. Established in 1982, the Umer Group of Companies with headquarters in Karachi, Pakistan, has been at the forefront of industry in Pakistan for many years. Through dedicated efforts, hard work and by the grace of God Umer Group is one of the leading groups in textile industry of Pakistan.

The Clarks Group has built on its success as the leading shoe company in the UK to become a £1.5 billion global business operating retail, wholesale, franchise and online channels in over 100 markets worldwide. Their latest franchise in the heart of Pakistan endeavours to penetrate the markets and set impeccable shoe-trends.

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Why cutlery is same for ‘Halal’ & ‘Haram’ banking?

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Javed Mahmood/Editor Corporate Ambassador

Islamic banking in Pakistan had completed almost 14 years. But after a lapse of one and a half decade, the people’s basic concerns about the spirit and nature of the Islamic banking in the country are still unattended.

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One of the major concerns of the people is that why the Islamic banks are getting the same rate of profit that is being charged by the commercial banks.

For example, if the commercial banks charge 18 to 20 percent mark up on the financing car, housing, etc., the Islamic banks would also work out their Shariah-compliant rate of return that is equal to the rate of profit/return of the commercial banks.

Another important concern is that why the Islamic banks are making the Karachi Interbank Operations Rate (KIBOR) as benchmark while calculating the rate of return/rental or profit. A very senior banker belonging to a famous Islamic bank in Pakistan candidly admitted in an interview to this writer that the Islamic banks calculate rate of return while keeping in mind the rate of KIBOR which is used by the commercial banks (that offer Haram/interest-based loans).

Another crucial issue is that why the investment/financing of the Islamic banks is based on profit and profit only and there is no chance of possibility of loss in financing.

Similarly, the Islamic banks investment in Sukuk (Islamic bonds) is also being criticized in case that financing is used in the projects that also involve the interest-based loans (Haram loans) from the commercial banks.

The classical case of the exploitation of the people in the name of Shariah-compliant banking is the laptop scheme that a famous Islamic bank offered to the customers.

The bank offered laptops for three to five years period with monthly instalment of 2,500 to 3,000 rupees. When I calculated the total payment of the instalments, the amount was in the range of about 75,000 rupees or little more than it while the actual price of the laptop was just 40,000 rupees.

I talked to a representative of the bank and said that I can pay half of the price of the laptop as down payment so that you can reduce the number of instalments and the amount of profit. But the banker said: “No Sir, you would have to buy laptop as per our plan.”

In simple words, he made it clear that the bank had introduced this Shariah-based scheme to mint money in the name of religion

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Does Shariah allow anyone to get 50 to 80 or 100 percent return on financing in the name of Islam?

This is the question that often strike in my mind and it irritates all those who are weary of the exploitative approach of the Islamic banks in Pakistan.

It is no doubt that most of the Muftis, religious scholars and clerics have approved the current mode of Islamic Banking in Pakistan and all over the world, but they never encouraged the exploitation of the people who opt for Shariah-based financing.

So the cutlery is the same that is being used by the Islamic banks and the commercial banks to extort maximum profit from financing. Here the cutlery means the money-minting approach of the Islamic banks that aims at extracting maximum return in the name of Shariah.

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President Mamnoon Hussain bids adieu to Turkey

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ISTANBUL, 26 April 2015: The President of Pakistan, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, concluded his official visit to Turkey undertaken from 22-26 April at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogon. The President represented Pakistan at the Centenary Anniversary of Canakkale Sea and Land Battles, which took place during the First World War. On the sidelines of the commemoration ceremonies, the President interacted with other participating world leaders.

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President Mamnoon Hussain arrived in Istanbul on 22 April and was received at Ataturk International Airport by Mr. Kenan Ipek, Turkish Minister for Justice, Governor Istanbul Mr. Vasip Şahin, Ambassador of Pakistan Mr. Sohail Mahmood and senior officials of the Turkish Government and members of the Pakistan Embassy.

On 23 April, President Mamnoon Hussain attended the High Level Segment of the Peace Summit, chaired by Turkish Prime Minister Prof. Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu and addressed by the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand and President of Iraq. The President also had interaction with President Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prince of Wales Prince Charles and other world leaders on the sidelines of other events related to the Peace Summit. The President and the First Lady also attended the dinner hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mrs. Emine Erdogan in honour of the participating leaders.

President Mamnoon Hussain had bilateral meeting with the President of the Republic of Albania, Mr. Bujar Nishani, on 23 April 2015. The President underscored Pakistan’s desire to strengthen relations with Albania in the economic, trade and cultural fields. The President stated that high level contacts were necessary for maintaining and expanding friendly cooperation between Pakistan and Albania. He stressed the need for exchange of parliamentary visits and close cooperation at the level of Parliamentary Friendship Groups in both countries. The President called for exploring ways and means to further expand commercial ties, including through greater interaction between the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries. He also offered collaboration in human resource development including higher education and training.

President Bujar Nishani said that the people of Albania considered Pakistan as a sincere friend. Echoing the same sentiments, he said that Albania desired expansion of bilateral relations with Pakistan.  He said that Pakistan could take advantage from Albania’s expertise in textile, tourism, mining, energy and agriculture sectors. President of Albania also extended invitation to the President to visit Albania. President Mamnoon Hussain also invited the Albanian President to visit Pakistan.

On 24th April, the President alongwith other world leaders visited Canakkale, the venue of epic land and sea battles over 100 years ago. He offered prayers and laid floral wreath at the Mehmeçik Memorial (Turkish War Soldiers) and at the Cape Helles during the Commonwealth Commemoration Ceremony. Later the President joined other leaders at dinner hosted by the Turkish President.

During his stay at Canakkale, the President held a meeting with President of Turkmenistan Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The President felicitated the Turkmenistan President on the 20th Anniversary of Turkmenistan’s Declaration of Neutrality and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for this initiative. On the bilateral plane, the President underscored the need for timely completion of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.  The President underlined the importance of direct transportation links for the enhancement of bilateral trade and commercial ties. The President stated that improved rail and road connectivity will not only help in improving bilateral economic relations but will also facilitate Turkmenistan’s access to the sea through Pakistan’s sea ports. The President underlined the need to take effective measures to ensure that economic cooperation is at par with the political relations between the two countries.

The President said that both counties could enter into mutually beneficial joint ventures in areas like information technology, telecommunications, banking and construction.  The President proposed that trade facilitation bodies and Chambers of Commerce & Industry of both countries be enabled to create linkages and synergies to further bilateral economic cooperation. The President noted that since both countries possess rich experience in agriculture and agro-based industry including textile and food processing, they can mutually benefit from each other’s expertise in these fields.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov thanked Pakistan for its consistent support for the Declaration of Neutrality and reiterated his invitation to the President to participate in the 20th anniversary celebrations in Turkmenistan later this year. He also expressed the desire to strengthen bilateral trade, commercial and transportation links. He further updated the President on the progress being made in the context of TAPI. Both sides agreed on stepped-up measures for fast track realization of the TAPI project.

Separately, Chairman of the Turkey-Pakistan Friendship Group in Turkish Parliament Mr. Burhan Kayaturk also called on the President in Istanbul. Views were exchanged on strengthening Parliamentary cooperation and bilateral relations in all fields.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a bilateral meeting on 25 April in Istanbul. President Mamnoon Hussain said that Pakistan was making all possible efforts to initiate and peaceful resolution of the Yemen crisis. The President stated that Pakistan’s commitment to Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has been an important pillar of its foreign policy. President Mamnoon Hussain stressed that economic ties between Pakistan and Turkey should be commensurate with the excellent bilateral political relations. The President stated that a number of Turkish companies had expressed interest in Dasu Dam Project.

Speaking on the occasion, Turkish President said that he had encouraged Turkish companies to invest in infrastructure and construction sectors and the building of dams in Pakistan. The President expressed hope that bilateral cooperation in the areas of defence, security and counter terrorism would continue to grow further.

The President stated that it was an honour to join the Turkish people on the historic occasion of the Centenary Commemoration of the Canakkale Battle. The President stated that Pakistan also pays homage to the brave Turkish soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice thereby paving the way for the eventual establishment of an independent Turkish Republic. On the occasion, Turkish President thanked President Mamnoon Hussain on attending centenary ceremonies. The President also extended an invitation to his Turkish counterpart to visit Pakistan at the earliest convenience.

Upon his departure for Pakistan on 26 April, President Mamnoon Hussain was seen off by Minister for National Education of Turkey Mr. Nabi Avci, local Turkish civil and military dignitaries, and Pakistan’s Ambassador Sohail Mahmood and members of the Pakistan Missions in Turkey.

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