Pakistan and Iraq are two modern nation-states representing the world’s two most ancient civilizations – Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. Iraq, also called the “cradle of civilization” also hosts some of the holiest sites of Islam. Pakistan is a country that achieved its independence on the aspiration of creating an Islamic Republic. It is thus not surprising that more than 200, 000 religious tourists from Pakistan visit Iraq every year, in particular to visit the holy shrines in the historical cities of Karbala, Najaf and Baghdad. The two countries are indeed bound by shared faith, values and culture. The two countries maintained close and friendly relations since the early 1950s. In the same decade, both became members of the “Baghdad Pact”. During Gulf War of 2003, Pakistan opposed military action against Iraq. And while there was always enough potential for bilateral cooperation between the two countries, it never bloomed for one reason or the other – almost always because of reasons beyond their control. In the recent past, this has changed. Following the interactions of the two countries’ parliamentarians as well as the visits of senior officials of various Ministries in 2019, bilateral Ministerial-level visits commenced in the second half of 2020. The visit of Pakistan’s Minister for Defence Production was followed by the visit of the Iraq’s Defence Minister. In May 2021, the visit of Foreign Minister Qureshi to Iraq was a ground-breaking one – it was the first bilateral visit of a Pakistani Foreign Minister to Iraq in almost four decades! The warmth and intent of both countries was on full display. Contours of a mutually beneficial partnership began to emerge. And now, as Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein is reciprocating the visit within three months of his counterpart, it is a clear manifestation of the importance accorded by both sides to develop this partnership for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples. The mutual desire to strengthen Pakistan-Iraq partnership has not developed out of thin air. The reverence attached by millions of Pakistanis, from all sects, to the holy shrines in Iraq; and the hospitality they enjoy while in Iraq forms a unique people-to-people bond. The two countries, in the last two decades, have fought valiantly in the fight against terrorism and have rendered countless sacrifices. Being fully cognizant that the development and prosperity they seek for their peoples is intricately linked to security within their borders and beyond, both value peace and security above anything else. Also, they share not just the democratic aspirations of their peoples, but also a vision of regional peace and harmony. No wonder, there is similarity in their approaches and policies – a fundamental basis for bilateral cooperation. In addition to shared experiences, ideals and aspirations, there have been friendly and considerate exchanges. For example, Pakistan dispatched three planes-load of COVID-related assistance to Iraq in March 2021 – a modest yet important gesture of brotherhood in testing times of the global pandemic. More than 60 diplomats from Iraq have so far received training in Pakistan’s reputed Foreign Services Academy. A number of Iraqi defence personnel have received professional training from Pakistan’s elite military academies and institutes. Pakistan has continued to offer scholarships to scores of Iraqi students in its educational institutions. Both countries have collaborated closely and supported each other in multilateral organizations, in particular the United Nations, its subsidiary bodies, and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The path of mutual cooperation and collaboration, which the two countries have resolved to tread together, offers huge opportunities to the two countries and their peoples. Firstly, there is huge potential in bilateral trade. Pakistan is already providing rice, textile, leather, sports and surgical goods to the Iraqi market. There is huge demand for oil in Pakistan, which can be met from Iraq’s resources. Secondly, there is significant potential for investment in both countries, in particular in religious tourism, infrastructure development and revival of Iraqi industries. Thirdly, Pakistan’s manpower, both skilled and unskilled, could help rebuild Iraq, just as it contributed admirably to the development of many countries in the Gulf. And most importantly, Pakistan also has the capability and the capacity to assist Iraq in the field of security and defence. The flurry of visits between Pakistan and Iraq signify that the two governments realize the true potential of their mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation. Consistent efforts and continued resolve would sustain the positive momentum generated in this relationship. Responding to the aspirations of their two peoples, it was reassuring that the two Foreign Ministers, in their recent interaction in Islamabad, reaffirmed their resolve to work assiduously towards building a stronger bond of friendship and closer cooperation in all fields. The writer is Pakistan’s ambassador to the Republic of Iraq.