In this multipolar and globalized planet, the transaction of imports and exports of any country on the base of a few countries seems inevitable. To set sail any country on the cruise of progress, it is a requisite that the country must enjoy transactional ties with as many states as the country can do best at its disposal. Thus, the constitution of Pakistan has always aspired to cultivate ample bonds with other states, particularly when it comes to Islamic countries. The father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah endorsed the idea of establishing the bloc comprising of all Muslim States of the world, and coveted that Pakistan must build robust bonds with Islamic countries.
Indonesia, the largest populated country in the Islamic world, is a friend of Pakistan. Their friendship history dates back to the colonial era when Pakistan stood by Indonesia, when the latter was reeling under the colonial rule of the Dutch. Both countries have Islamic brotherhood which is striving for worldwide peace, promoting tolerance, fighting to get rid of terrorism, extremism and endeavouring to settle problems and differences by peaceful means and dialogues. The founder of Pakistan extended support to Indonesia amidst those harsh times and backed the latter in its struggle for independence. The father of the Nation encouraged Muslim soldiers to assist their Muslim brothers against Dutch rule, consequently, about 600 Muslim soldiers from British Indian Army battled to defend their Indonesian brothers. Amongst them, 500 soldiers were martyred, while survivors returned to Pakistan and others settled in Indonesia. To pay homage to the services of brave soldiers, the Indonesian government gave Independence War Awards to the living ex-Pakistani soldiers and accorded Muhammad Ali Jinnah with the highest honour of ‘Adipura’.
During General Ayub’s regime Pakistan’s ties with Indonesia further warmed-up, when Indonesia extended support to Pakistan by offering to provide military assistance in the war against India in 1965. In addition to this, Indonesia has always sided with Pakistan, when it comes to Kashmir issue; as Indonesia endorses the idea of self-determination for the oppressed masses of Kashmir. With the membership of both the countries in the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and in the United Nations (UN), Pakistan and Indonesia have raised their concerns against Western designs aimed at Muslim Ummah.
Located in the Southeast-Asia, Indonesia is the world’s largest island country with more than 70,000 Islands, with the world’s fourth populated nation having 34 provinces. Albeit, Indonesia fairly spreads out, its geography considerably works-out to its advantage. Indonesia is a major trading hub since it has access to more coastline than any other country in the world and its beaches draw the influx of tourist all around the world. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the strongest powerful economy and 16th largest in the world with GDP of nearly $900 billion, plus it is the member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. Bearing in mind such factors friendly relations with Indonesia are akin to the sigh of relief for economically disturbed Pakistan.
Trade volume between Pakistan and Indonesia stands at $2.5 billion; according to Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Suyhdhie Amri, this volume might swell up to $ 9 billion. Indonesia has always been the comfortable market for Pakistan to export its product to Indonesia, as Pakistan exports its textile products, vegetables, and fruits particularly Mangoes and Kino’s to Indonesia. Holding a membership of ASEAN countries, Indonesia can procure Pakistan access to ASEAN markets, which can assist Pakistan to earn a lot of revenue. Pakistan and Indonesia have inked Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) on February 2012; the purpose of PTA is to reduce tariffs on imports and empower companies to expand to other countries. Under PTA Indonesia offers Pakistan market access for 223 tariff lines and among these 103 are zero-rated, reciprocally Pakistan extends Indonesia 313 tariff lines on items like edible oil, kitchenware, chemicals, wood, glassware, and electronic items. At times, Pakistan gets 80 percent of its palm oil from Indonesia.
Their friendship history dates back to the colonial era when Pakistan stood by Indonesia, when the latter was reeling under the colonial rule of the Dutch. Both countries have Islamic brotherhood which is striving for worldwide peace, promoting tolerance, fighting to get rid of terrorism
Located at the rim of South-Asia, Pakistan, which is renowned for its unique geographical location, the only nuclear power among the Islamic countries is very significant for Indonesia. Pakistan can provide Indonesia access to energy and resource rich central Asian countries.
Indonesia has the highest rising rates of health’s inequality in Southeast Asia, and two third of the population survives on less than $ 2 a day. Amidst such conditions, trade ties of Indonesia with Pakistan can help the latter ameliorate its economy. Indonesia is also vulnerable when it comes to the defence spectre, as it contributes less than one percent on defence and military expenses. This budget is below than the recommended budget for defence. The nuclear power Pakistan with its huge army might, is likely to neutralise terrorist activities and threats to Indonesia as the former did in the past.
This year in January, president of Indonesia Joko Widodo visited Pakistan and held meetings with Ex-president Mamnoon Hussain and then Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Both sides agreed to maintain close high-level exchanges, which would provide guidance to the sustainable development of our bilateral relationship. Both leaders agreed to intensify counter-terrorism assistance and pledged to support each other in anti-terrorism activities. PM Shahid Abbasi also hailed Indonesia’s desire to assist Afghanistan in fostering peace, and briefed Joko Widodo about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts to establish peace in the area.
In a nutshell, Pakistan’s better ties with Indonesia would help both the countries in their economic upkeep, territorial stability. In addition to this, their strong partnership will serve as the bulwark against western intentions aimed against Islam. The government of PTI ought to establish deep ties with Indonesia in earnest to promote unity and stability in the Islamic world.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in Daily Times, October 30th 2018.