Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner to Canada Shahbaz Malik Saturday said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and Canada would further expand for the mutual benefit of both. Shahbaz Malik was addressing a gathering of members of the Pakistani diaspora, local dignitaries and members of diplomatic corps, including high commissioners and ambassadors, during a Qawwali performance organized by the Pakistan High Commission. Various Canadian senators and parliamentarians as well as Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, and Dr. Mahmoud Eboo, AKDN representative to Canada, also attended the function, a press release said. The event was dedicated to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Pakistan and Canada as well as 75th Independence Day of Pakistan falling this year. The acting HC said that Pakistan and Canada established bilateral diplomatic relations in 1947, shortly after Pakistan’s independence, and the relationship had grown from strength to strength over the decades. He said both Pakistan and Canada continued to cooperate on bilateral and multilateral fora due to a commonality of views on a number of global challenges like peace and security, climate change and multilateralism. He lauded Canada’s invaluable humanitarian support to Pakistan through the Covid-19 pandemic. Welcoming the guests to the event, Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner observed that Pakistan was looking forward to expanding these ties to cover political, economic, security and cultural fields. He underlined the importance of cultural linkages between people and their role in strengthening bilateral relations and described the Qawwali event as an effort to introduce the Canadians to Pakistan’s vibrant music and culture. He told the guests that Qawwali as a traditional form of Sufi music and poetry had gained considerable global audience and recognition due to a deep spiritual message it conveyed to the listeners. He also recalled AKDN’s historic association with Pakistan, particularly the role of Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III as the first President of All-India Muslim League as well as being a comrade of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah during the freedom struggle for Pakistan. Speaking on the occasion, Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, described Pakistan-Canada relationship as being strong and underpinned by strong people-to-people ties. He said Pakistan was the fifth largest source of immigration to Canada with more than 250,000 Canadians of Pakistani origin living in Canada. He said Canada valued its bilateral relationship with Pakistan and there were many regular opportunities for engagement between both countries. He highlighted a significant high-level engagement over the past year between both countries. He thanked Pakistan for extending valuable support to Canada in fulfilling its commitment to move 40,000 Afghan nationals to Canada. Thoppil described as very positive the economic relationship between both countries and appreciated the growth in bilateral trade which had risen to $ 1.2 billion in 2021. He also underscored a recent signing of framework by Canada’s Barrack Gold for relaunching of RekoDiq mining project in Pakistan. He said the project had the potential for Canada to be one of the largest foreign investors in Pakistan.