Pakistan

Punjab, California sign 'sister province' agreement

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An agreement to declare Punjab and California "sister provinces" was signed on January 9, 2023, at the State Capitol building in Sacramento, California, capital of the US state of California, aimed at bolstering a mutually beneficial relationship.

Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California State Assembly, signed the agreement on behalf of the state, while Wasif Khurshid, Chairman of the Planning and Development Board, signed on behalf of the Punjab government.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Masood Khan witnessed the signing ceremony.

Attending the signing ceremony were former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Lieutenant Governor of California, Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis; Speaker Rendon, Chris Holden, members of the California State Assembly, US State officials and large number of Pakistani-American community activists.

Ambassador Masood Khan and the visiting Pakistani delegation were warmly received at the California State Assembly and the delegation was recognised and greeted on the floor of the house, according to a press release issued by the Pakistani embassy.

We proudly announce the Landmark Agreement between The US State of California and the Pakistan Province of Punjab that declares them Sister Provinces and is expected to promote trade, culture, environment, and education.@ForeignOfficePk @PkPublicDiplo @PakinUSA pic.twitter.com/ljQMq3UeIn
— Pakistan Consulate General Los Angeles (@PakinLosAngeles) January 14, 2023

The sister province agreement between California and Punjab would promote mutual trade and commerce and increase the potential for educational, environmental, and cultural relations between the province of Punjab and the state of California, the Pakistani envoy said later at another event, adding that it would also provide an opportunity to exploit the untapped economic potential and promote people-to-people contacts.

The state of California, which is among the top four economies of the world, and a vibrant middle class of Punjab, would create the required synergies for nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship and a win-win partnership, Masood said.

Read more: Houston-Karachi Sister Cities discuss projects

Earlier, the delegation visited the University of California Davis, a leading agricultural and veterinary research university in the world and met Chancellor Gary May. Both sides discussed ways to strengthen the collaboration between UC Davis, and the Agriculture University Faisalabad and agreed to further build on the partnership, according to the press release.

The two sides discussed ways and means to promote collaboration in the export of mangoes and dates from Pakistan. UC Davis support in hybrid seeds of wheat, cotton and rice also came under discussion. Cooperation on climate smart agriculture was also discussed during the meeting, it said.

The delegation also attended a reception hosted by Dr Asif Mahmood, a prominent Pakistani-American politician, at his residence.

It was attended, among others, by Congresswoman Judy Chu, California State Assembly member Holden, Former secretary Labour Hilda Solis, representatives from the State Assembly and a large number of Pak-American community leaders, educationists and social entrepreneurs.

Welcoming the Pakistani delegation to California, Congresswoman Chu highlighted similarities between California and Punjab including strong agricultural bases and vibrant populations of the two sides.

“This will be a start of wonderful partnership between California and Punjab as we have so many commonalities to build upon,” the congresswoman said.

Ambassador Masood thanked Dr Asif Mahmood for the warm welcome and for continuously working to project a soft image of Pakistan in California.

Highlighting the strengths of Pak-US relationship, Ambassador Masood said that the decades-long bilateral relationship was characterised by "longevity and resilience".

“From the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, we have brought this legacy of cooperation to the era of new technological age, which is constantly transforming regional and global landscapes,” he added.

“The spirit of solidarity between our two nations continues,” said the Pakistani envoy.

Masood highlighted the critical role of the Pakistani diaspora in cementing mutual bonds of friendship and serving as a "bridge" between the two countries as well as Punjab and California.

“More than 200,000 Pak-Americans in California and the West Coast are acting as a catalyst in our relationship.”

The ambassador highlighted the recent spurt in bilateral trade volume, saying a huge potential existed, especially in tech and IT sectors, to enhance bilateral trade volume.

Masood expressed the hope that a strong partnership between California and Punjab would be instrumental in tapping the existing potential for the mutual benefit of the people.

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