ISLAMABAD: There are strong educational links between Malaysia and Pakistan with over 5,000 students currently studying in Malaysia, High Commissioner of Malaysia to Pakistan Dr Hasrul Sani Mujtabar said on Tuesday. “Various Malaysian universities are in the process of opening branches in Pakistan and hopefully after this step these links between the two countries shall further be strengthened,” the envoy said while addressing a press briefing arranged to mark the completion of 60 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Pakistan. The high commissioner further said 2017 marked 60 years since Malaysia and Pakistan had established diplomatic relations. “It is an important milestone for the Malaysia and Pakistani people who are connected to each other by long standing ties of affection, friendship and respect. It offered us an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of Malaysia-Pakistan relations and consider new ideas and initiatives to strengthen enrich and deepen our future,” he said. Dr Mujtabar expressed the confidence that the current positive cooperation would continue to set an impetus as a platform for our countries partnership in the political, trade and economic, investments, science and technical fields. “Besides, cooperation in the fields of tourism and humanitarian areas for the good of the Malaysian and Pakistani people is also increasing. To mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, the year 2017 will be celebrated through numerous activities in both countries. I wish to underline that there is every reasons to confidently state that with joint efforts the collaboration between our friendly states will be further strengthened and deepened for the benefit of the tow brother nations,” he said. While taking about trade and economic relations, the high commissioner said trade between the two countries had witnessed decrease from $3 billion to around $1 and half billion. “Pakistan is now our number three trading partner, while in past, it used to be at number two position. Now the neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh are doing quite well according to the world report. Pakistan needs to address this issue in order to regain its share,” he said. He further said that among the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries Pakistan was Malaysia’s largest trading partner. “I believe we have to move beyond from the traditional trade items because both countries have huge potential in various fields,” he said. Giving more details about educational links the high commissioner said, out of 5,000 students studying in Malaysia, most of students belong to private sector, which is quite encouraging. “A total of 1,400 students come from the government sector. The Higher Education Commission is always available for any assistance to promote bilateral relations in different fields,” he said. Talking about tourism, the high commissioner said that number of Pakistani tourists to Malaysia had also decreased in recent years. “We need to improve this number in future. I know most of the Pakistani families like to visit Malaysia for holidays. After China, Malaysia happens to be the most sought after place for tourists in Asia simply because Malaysia provides tourists with modern facilities,” he said. “Military cooperation between the two counties is also strong. There are a lot of military exchanges and exhibitions on both parts, which makes this relationship important and stronger,” he said. “On cultural side too Malaysia and Pakistan have been cooperating with each other. We are planning to bring a cultural troupe to Pakistan, which will present traditional Malaysian performances,” he said. The high commissioner termed the CPEC project very important for Pakistan. “Foreign investors are taking keen interest in this project. Malaysian businessmen are also watching the CPEC developments with interest,” he said.