On January 9, 2023, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, an agreement was declared to designate Punjab and California as sister provinces. The agreement was signed by Wasif Khurshid, chairman of the Planning and Development Board of Punjab, and Anthony Rendon, speaker of the California State Assembly. While Punjab is Pakistan’s largest province with a population of over 100 million, California has the fourth largest economy in the world and is the richest state in the United States.
Under the sister agreement, California and Punjab will collaborate in four areas, including higher education, agriculture, information technology, and tourism. In addition, the deal will give California and Punjab province the chance to tap into untapped economic possibilities and foster interpersonal relationships. The development of a sister province relationship between California and Punjab was greatly aided by Dr. Asif Mahmood, a well known activist and Pakistani-American who recently ran for the US House of Representatives from California.
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To garner support for the formation of the California Punjab partnership, he has been collaborating with the leadership and legislators of the California Assembly. In an interview, he claimed that this is the first time that the state of California has taken part in such a deal and that both parties stand to gain from it.
According to the agreement, the states of California and Punjab have talked about ways to improve the collaboration between the University of California, Davis, and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad and have decided to further develop the partnership. The two parties also talked about ways to encourage cooperation in the export of dates and mangoes from Pakistan and the support of UC Davis for hybrid wheat, cotton, and rice seeds. Cooperation on climate-smart agriculture was also addressed between the two partners.
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Dr. Asif Mahmood will lead a delegation of seven California House members to Lahore in February to sign new agreements with the Punjab government to strengthen cooperation in four key areas. According to Dr. Asif, the cooperation between Pakistan and California will improve after the current agreement’s four-year span expires and the deal is renewed. With Karachi as the focal point, Dr. Asif wants to accomplish a similar feat for Sindh.