California-Punjab SPA important milestone to strengthen both provinces: Envoy

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan has said Sister Province Agreement (SPA) between California and Punjab would open up vistas of opportunities in deepening mutual cooperation in the diverse fields. He was addressing a high level reception hosted by the leadership of Californian State Assembly in the honor of visiting delegation from Pakistan at the Governor’s mansion, according to a press release received here on Wednesday from Washington DC.

He said landmark agreement is an important milestone in strengthening linkages between California and the largest populated province of Pakistan at all levels and would serve as a force multiplier in efforts to strengthen Pak-US relations. Masood Khan said Pak-US relations are on ascending curve and is the most appropriate time for signing the agreement. He said there are natural complementaries between Pakistan and the United States particularly Punjab and California.

Referring to recent spurt in Pak-US bilateral trade volume especially IT services exports to the United States, amounting to $1.4 billion, the Ambassador noted that 80 percent of IT services from Pakistan were being exported to California. The reception was organized to celebrate landmark agreement between California and Punjab and was attended among others by the Lieutenant Governor of California, Speaker and large number of California State assembly members along Pakistani-American community leaders.

Addressing the event former Prime Minister Senator Yousuf Raza Gillani expressed the hope that the agreement would be instrumental in tapping untapped potential existing between the two federating units. He said Pakistan considers the US as its close ally, and hopes to further strengthen its bilateral relations with the US through frequent parliamentary and people-to-people exchanges.

Prominent Pakistani-American leader Dr Asif Mahmood, played a pivotal role for the establishment of sister province relationship between California and Punjab. Addressing the gathering, Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis said that the agreement would help the two sides to expand and solidify ties between California and Punjab. She said the state of California fully realizes the potential of cooperation between the two critically important provinces.

Earlier, former Prime Minister Senator Yusuf Raza Gillani visited California State University Northridge and University of California Davis to discuss educational cooperation between Pakistan and the United States, especially in the field of agriculture.