Widodo’s visionary remarks

INDONESIA’S President Joko Widodo, while addressing a joint session of Parliament on Friday, called for a firm commitment to democracy terming it “the only way to serve interests of the people”. The distinguished guest rightly remarked that democracy provides space for people in decision-making process, “helps maintain political stability and achieve growth”.
In his short and crisp address, the Indonesian President focused less on bilateral relations than role and potential of his country and the challenges facing the Muslim world like instability, radicalism and terrorism, which amply reflected his desire for closer cooperation among Muslim countries to address them. The problem of instability has two dimensions – internal and external. While the Muslim countries need to forge unity in their ranks and harmonize their policies and approaches to counter foreign factors, sanity must prevail among the leadership of the Islamic world to guard against internal stability, which is mostly triggered by lust for power. The Indonesian leader has rightly pointed out that there can be no economic growth and investment if there was no political stability and this we have witnessed in the case of our own country. Similarly, despite being the major affectees of the problem of terrorism, Muslims countries are bearing the brunt of propaganda of being sponsors of terrorism and therefore, they should brainstorm the issue at the level of OIC to formulate a counter strategy. As for bilateral relations are concerned, Pakistan and Indonesia are two biggest Muslim population countries with many commonalities, which should form the basis for taking the relationship to new heights. No doubt, the two countries have fraternal ties but there is lack of diversity and comprehensiveness in relations and that should be a point to ponder by their leadership. That President Mamnoon Hussain himself received his Indonesian counterpart at Noor Khan Airbase reflected the importance that Pakistan attaches to the brotherly country. The relationship can be strengthened through regular exchange of visits and establishing a framework for cooperation in different fields. They have a preferential trade agreement but unfortunately instead of addressing the chronic imbalance it has accentuated it and in this background the decision of Indonesia to give duty-free access to 20 export items from Pakistan is a welcome development. Both the countries have big markets and they can effectively raise the level of bilateral trade significantly if there is sincerity and will.

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