ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday expressed commitment to forge stronger partnership with Africa in all spheres of cooperation and reaffirmed its full support to the aspirations of African nations for peace, progress and prosperity. In a statement, the Foreign Office extended its heartiest felicitations on ‘Africa Day 2021,’ commemorating the 58th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union. Celebrated across the world, the day marks the heroic struggle of the African nations for emancipation from colonialism as well as the rich African heritage, cultural diversity, and the continent’s immense economic and development potential, it said. Founded in 1963, the African Union has come a long way in realizing the hopes and aspirations of the most promising region of the world. “Premised on common values and shared prosperity, and guided by its own citizens, the union has now embarked on a journey towards forging a united, prosperous and peaceful African continent,” it said. The Foreign Office said that Pakistan had a long and illustrious history of friendly relations with Africa. “Our bonds with African nations predate the establishment of the African Union,” it said. The statement said historically, Pakistan has played its role in lending support to African struggles for freedom from colonial rule; combating apartheid; extending humanitarian assistance, where needed; and supporting capacity building through training programmes and initiatives. “Pakistan has also been making sustained and meaningful contributions towards peace and security efforts in Africa.” The statement said that since 1960s, Pakistani blue helmets, under the UN auspices, have been engaged in peace-keeping and peace-building initiatives across the continent. “Many of our peacekeepers rendered the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in protecting African lives and promoting African causes, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to the people of Africa,” it said. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has set its course to re-energize and reinforce its partnership with Africa. The FO said spearheaded by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Engage Africa initiative aims at strengthening political and diplomatic linkages, further deepening and broadening mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, and expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The initiative is being realized through expansion of diplomatic outreach and greater presence in Africa; building stronger cooperation at the multilateral forums and with African institutions; initiating structured institutional engagements, including at the leadership level; initiating new bilateral trade and investment initiatives; featuring improved air and maritime connectivity; enhancing linkages among parliaments, think tanks, academia and specialized institutions; and promoting collaboration in the fields of science and technology, he added.