Pakistan Day is commemorated every year on 23rd March on account of a historic RESOLUTION that was unanimously passed in Lahore by a congregation All India Muslim League in favour of a separate homeland for the Muslims of Indian sub-continent. This was demanded in view of the extreme injustice and grievances directed against the Muslims under the majority Hindu rule following elections held by the British Raj in 1930s. This unanimous Resolution paved the way for the first independent Muslim state i.e. PAKISTAN on August 14, 1947.
During 2005 visit by Pakistan’s President, some agreements were signed namely; a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Certain Other Crimes; Visa Waiver Agreement for Diplomatic Passport Holders; Cultural Exchange Program for 2005 to 2009; and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine Trading International Corporation (PITC) and the United Marketing on the Importation of Medicines from Pakistan. President Musharraf and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to cooperate against terrorism and to promote interfaith dialogue. On the 40th Anniversary of Al-Fateh Revolution of Libya, in September 2009 President Arroyo met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani held a meeting in Tripoli.
During the recent past, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Agriculture was signed between the two countries in 2018. Yet another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation between Central Bank of the Philippines and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has come into force from 28th January this year. Yet another bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation is ready for conclusion between Pakistan and Philippines which is expected to be signed at the Department of National Defence on 5 May this year.
Both countries have a Policy Consultations Talks mechanism-4th round of which was held in Islamabad in early 2018 during the visit by Undersecretary Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo to Islamabad. On March 8, 1997, an agreement was signed by both countries to create a forum for Policy Consultations at the level of senior officials. The Policy Consultation Meeting serves as a forum for the DFA and the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues, present the political and economic policies of both governments, coordinate joint efforts, explore new areas for cooperation, and facilitate the conclusion of bilateral agreements. The two countries, in principle, have agreed to hold the next round of Bilateral Policy Consultations Talks in the year 2022.
The Philippines and Pakistan signed two economic agreements, namely the Philippines-Pakistan Trade Agreement and the Philippines-Pakistan Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment, on September 29, 1961 and April 23,1999 in Manila, respectively. The latter Agreement is presently under review by both sides to bring it into conformity with the emerging global trade and investment patterns.
Philippines-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC)
During the 2nd round of Philippines-Pakistan Policy Consultations held last April 1, 2004, both sides agreed to rejuvenate the trade and investment relations between the Philippines and Pakistan through a Philippines-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission or JEC at the Ministerial level. The first-ever JEC, however, met many years later in Islamabad in 2018. It is expected that the Bilateral Policy Consultations Talks to be held in 2022 will in tandem also cater to the holding of 2nd round of Joint Economic Commission this year.
Philippines-Pakistan Trade Relations
The annual figures for 2020 and 2021 show considerable increase in bilateral trade despite Covid-19 restrictions in the past year. The total bilateral trade in 2020 which stood at US$149.98 million rose to US$215.95 million in 2021. Just to give latest one month figures; in February 2022, Pakistan’s exports to the Philippines stood at US$ 25.254 million and imports from Philippines at US$ 3.659 million. With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the trend seems pointing toward much higher figures by the end of the year.
Top exports to Pakistan include garments, paper products, cosmetics, dairy products, processed fruits, coconut products, tobacco, electronic components and machineries, iron, steel, cement and chemicals. Top imports from Pakistan include housewares, Textiles, processed foods, dairy products, marine products, fresh foods, tobacco, textile yarns and twines, and industrial products.
Associations of Pakistanis in the Philippines
i) Pak-Phil Friendship Association Inc. (PPFA)
This is an Association of Pakistani businessmen and entrepreneurs residing in the Philippines (mainly in Manila and Subic Bay) which has been registered with the host Government’s S&E Commission on January 15, 2021. It aims are evident from its title; to promote friendship, people to people contacts between the two countries as well as contribute in charitable causes as per the norms and laws of the host government and promotion of Pakistani culture and awareness. The PPFA held an Eid Milad-un-Nabi (SAW) function and Kashmir related Black Day event in October 2022 which were attended by a large number of community members and the Embassy team in Batangas city. PPFA is also organizing a gala Pakistan Day event in Subic Bay on 23rd March 2022 where Ambassador and local dignitaries are invited as Guest of Honour.
ii) Pakistan Welfare Association (PWA)
This is yet another newly established Association of Pakistanis living in various parts of the entire Philippines. It is purely non-political and non-profit entity formed, for the purpose of assisting Pakistani diaspora in the Philippines in distress and assisting them in settling down well as also for help in legal matters so as to promote goodwill, people-to-people contacts, promotion of Pakistani culture and awareness about Pakistan. This Association has been registered with concerned authorities of the host government on February 2, 2021. The Association also distributed rations during the last year’s Covid-19’s acute phase among deserving Pakistani and Filipino families.
PWA organized a welcome reception for the newly arrived Pakistan Ambassador in the Philippines His Excellency Dr. Imtiaz A. Kazi on February 5, 2021 which was attended, among others, by senior official from Law Enforcement Authorities/Salam Center of the Philippines. Pakistani community also expressed their solidarity on this occasion as February 5 marks Kashmir Solidarity Day for Pakistani and Kashmiris. The PWA also held an Eid Milad-un-Nabi (SAW) event in a local mosque in Manila in October 2021.
iii) The Philippines-Pakistan Business Council (PPBC)
The PPBC was established towards the latter part of 2003. It was fully launched in September 2004. However, the Mission has not recorded any activity on its part in the past 2 years or so.
Diaspora/the Expat Community in Pakistan and the Philippines
There are an estimated 1,500-2,000 plus Filipinos in Pakistan which include few hundred permanent residents married to Pakistani nationals, around 1000 documented working visa holders (in IT, hotel industry, nurses, therapists, religious missionaries, those employed in textile mills and road construction projects, and workers from UN and other international organizations) and some irregular/undocumented residents. Likewise, there is a matching number of Pakistani diaspora well settled in the Philippines (many of them are married to local Filipinos) promoting goodwill and engaged in mutually beneficial trade and investment activities between the two countries.