Pakistan-South Korea Ties Need Strengthening

By Muhammad Farooq Ahmad

In resonance with the rapidly changing geo-strategic realities in today’s world, Pakistan strongly believes in peace and stability in the region to focus on development, and promote trade activates with neighboring and regional countries. It has been the desire of Pakistan to promote cultural and educational activities, to provide access to Central Asian states to the Warm Water Ports and work for the welfare of the poor people of the region—especially against poverty and diseases. Pakistan also desires to focus on the fields of research and advanced technology. The foreign policy of a state is always formulated according to its regional environment, national interests, capabilities, and ideologies.

Hence, for Pakistan, the foreign policy is based on cordiality with all the neighbors as well as those in the region with equal attention towards strong social, cultural and trade relations. To this purpose, Pakistan has always tried to explore the venues amongst its friendly and well-wishing nations in the region.

Korea and Pakistan have unique cultural ties, tracing back to the 4th century, when a venerable Monk Marananta of the Gandhara region in Pakistan introduced Buddhism to the ancient Korean Kingdom of Baekje. In the 8th century, the Buddhist Monk Hyecho from the Unified Silla Kingdom travelled to Pakistan and left a travelogue.

Pakistan, being a cradle of Buddhist Civilisation, is a source of attraction for Korean tourists. Bilateral relations have been improving since 1947, Pakistan and S.Korea are enjoying their bilateral, diplomatic and friendly relations since 1983.

Though the two Asian nations share historic, cultural, geographic, and economic links, their relationship needs further boosting for the better interest of them both. South Korea is the 26th largest country in the world by population and its development over the last half century has been nothing short of spectacular. Fifty years ago, the country was poorer than Bolivia and Mozambique; but today, it is richer than New Zealand and Spain and stands with the Brazilian and Indian economy. S. Korea also took the 4th largest economy position in Asia and 11th positions on the list of fastest economically growing countries by their GDP and in world.

Presently, it has an export-oriented economy with a per capita income. Now its economy has grown by an average of seven percent annually. South Korea joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of rich industrialized countries, and in 2010, it became the first Asian country and the first non-G-7 member to host a G-20 summit. Today South Korea is a rich, technologically advanced, mature democracy with an impressive record of innovation, economic reform, and sound leadership. This country also enjoys relative political stability and is making impressive economic progress. With the spirit of defeatism that so long prevailed among the Korean people, the key element is a new feeling of self-reliance and self-assurance that has begun to pervade the country. “We can do it ourselves” has become the motto of the Korean people. South Korea has also ended her long international isolation by seeking a significant role in regional and international affairs. Today Korea had succeeded using Pakistan’s model of development and got the exemplary position in the world. Its economy was based solely on its will to be self-reliant by manufacturing, targeting export markets and the establishment of nuclear power plant. So with geographical as well as Asia’s perspective, if we look forward our bilateral and cordial relationships with Korean peninsula than it should be more deep and strong because there are many areas in which both countries can boost their ties and improve the living standard of their people.

In last two decades, Korea has become the 12th largest trading partner of Pakistan as two-way trade volume was about $1.2 billion in 2016; exporting technology goods and importing raw material from Pakistan. Korean investors are keen to invest in Pakistan and Korean companies such as Lotte, Posco, Samsung and LG Electronics have established a reputation as excellent business partners and manufacturer of quality consumer goods. Lotte group is the single largest foreign direct investor to date in the petrochemical and confectionery industry of the country. Posco engineering is investing in the steel sector of Pakistan. In infrastructure development Daewoo’s Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M-2) is a landmark project, providing transport services and a modern road transport system in Pakistan. Lowari tunnel,.

Pakistan also offered huge opportunities to the Korean business companies in energy generation, including Hydel, wind, solar, biomass and coal generation. At this stage, both countries should forge deep understanding and co-operation with various international organizations and regional bodies. Both countries need for closer economic interaction and ways to tap avenues which could generate more opportunities to boost their ties.

If South Korea and Pakistan are to reap the full benefits of their cordial relations, both countries need to staff it with top experts committed to building a forward-looking socio-economic partnership and trade. Moreover, the government must bolster its cadre of social economic experts who can effectively serve both countries’ national interests. Both the countries should, therefore, continue mutual contact for expanding cooperation in various areas and alter them from bilateral to multilateral levels.

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