ISLAMABAD, Oct 22 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday called his Bhutanese counterpart Dr. Lotay Tshering and discussed anti-COVID efforts and promotion of tourism besides matters of mutual interest.

The prime minister commended the measures taken by the Bhutanese leadership to contain the pandemic. They also exchanged views on their respective steps to deal with the myriad challenges posed by the pandemic, a PM Office statement said.

He said that his government had particularly focused on saving lives, securing livelihoods, and stimulating the economy. The “smart-lockdown” strategy and other measures taken by the government, had led to significant containment of the pandemic in Pakistan, he added.

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The prime minister particularly highlighted the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing countries, for which he had also called for the “Global Initiative on Debt Relief”.

In the bilateral context, he underscored the importance Pakistan attached to closer ties with Bhutan and highlighted the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people-to-people exchanges.

Appreciating the Bhutanese model of tourism promotion and conservation of heritage sites, the prime minister apprised his counterpart on steps taken by his government to promote tourism, especially religious tourism in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan was proud of its rich Buddhist heritage which dated back to the Buddhist Gandhara civilization. Pakistan would welcome Bhutanese pilgrims visiting the scared Buddhist sites, he added.

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The prime minister also extended an invitation to Bhutanese counterpart to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time.