Pak, Thailand enjoy unprecedented boost in bilateral ties: Marri

225

Colourful reception marks 95th National Day of Thailand

Zubair Qureshi

Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety and Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Shazia Marri has noted there is a marked increase in Pakistan-Thailand bilateral relations particularly in the trade sector which has registered an increase of 110 percent during the last financial year.

She was addressing as Chief Guest a reception in connection with the 95th anniversary of Thailand’s National Day at Marriott Hotel. Ambassador of Thailand Chakkrid Krachaiwong and Mrs Pornart Krachaiwong had hosted the reception that attracted a large number of the Pakistani and non-Pakistani (foreign diplomats) fans of Thailand’s art, culture, cuisine and tourism destinations. The venue was decorated with colours of Thailand’s flags while the Thai nationals, mostly the embassy’s staff, were there in traditional Thai attire to express their love and pride for their homeland.

Performance of Thailand’s artists was however the highlight of the event and the guests broke in rounds of applause at each of their performances.

In her address, Shazia Marri mentioned contributions by the members of the Pakistani and the Pakistan-origin community—approximately 8,000 and 150,000 respectively—to the Thai economy and called them an asset for both Pakistan and Thailand.

Pakistan, she said, is home to the ancient Gandhara Civilization which is religiously very close to the Thailand people (more than 95pc are Buddhists). It is an honour for Pakistan and a moment of pride that Chief Monk of Thailand, Most Venerable Aryawangso decided to spend the three-month ‘rain retreat’ in the heart of the ancient Gandhara Civilization i.e. Taxila, she said. Not only MV Aryawangso, a large number of his followers (more than 150) also came to attend the closing ceremony of the rain retreat in October this year thus giving a boost to the prospects of Buddhist tourism in Pakistan. This was MV’s second visit. In 2019, too he had visited the country before the pandemic and installed ‘bells of peace’ in Taxila and Peshawar. This year he installed the bell at Swat Museum to fulfill a promise with late Miangul Adnan Aurangzeb, former MNA. In his welcome address, Ambassador Chakkrid Krachaiwong of Thailand spoke about the deep and strong bond of friendship that existed between Pakistan and Thailand. He also highlighted the phenomenal increase in the volume of bilateral trade and termed it beneficial for the people of the both countries. The 5th December is also recognized by the UN as “World Soil Day” to acknowledge the late King’s remarkable contributions in soil science for the improvement of livelihood of people, he said adding throughout his 70-year reign, His Majesty had travelled far and wide of Thailand to learn about people’s struggles in order to come up with the sustainable solutions to improve their well-being and alleviate their poverty. The Thai ambassador also announced that the Thai Airways had decided to resume direct flights to all three major cities in Pakistan: Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi and the number of flights increased from once a week to several times a week and we are expecting daily flights from some cities in the near future.

According to the ambassador, the year marks the 60th anniversary of the late King and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s landmark visit to Pakistan and to commemorate this occasion, the Thai Embassy, in cooperation with the Punjab Governor House, improved the landscape around the mango trees that Their Majesties planted during their visit. Since the last 60 years the old mango trees stand there as a testament of our close and cordial ties, he said. “His Majesty the current King of Thailand has also visited Pakistan 3 times as Crown Price signifying the importance of our relations.” Thailand will work hand in hand with Pakistan to achieve our common goals for the benefits of our peoples as well as people of the world, he said.

The Thai ambassador also referred to MV Aryawangso’s visit to Taxila and termed it a starting point for Buddhist tourism in Pakistan.