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Pakistan independence anniversary -The past, the present, the future

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As Pakistan celebrates 74 years after the end of foreign rule, Diplomat Weekly editor Reginald Chapfunga talks to the country’s, Chargé d’affaires to Zimbabwe, Mr. Fariz Hasan on the country’s successes and limitations, bilateral relations with Harare and its footprint in Africa.

36 year old Mr Fariz Hasan is a retired Air force fighter pilot. He has served at the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York, USA and was the Acting Ambassador of Pakistan, to the Kingdom of Morocco. He was posted to Zimbabwe in 2020. Mr Hasan holds a Masters in Finance and an MS in Banking degrees.

What is the significance of 14 August to the people of Pakistan?

On 14 August, 1947 Pakistan achieved independence and was declared a sovereign state marking the end of the British Raj. The long struggle that started with the Indian Rebellion of 1857 where the Crown assumed full control of the Indian subcontinent culminated into freedom on this very day celebrated as Pakistan’s Independence Day every year.

And what is the difference between Pakistan Day celebrated in March and the Pakistan Independence Day?

Pakistan Day or Pakistan Resolution Day, also Republic Day, is a national holiday in Pakistan commemorating the Lahore Resolution passed on 23 March 1940. The Lahore Resolution was a formal political statement adopted by Indian Muslims on the occasion of its three-day general session in Lahore on 22–24 March 1940. The resolution called for independent states in a manner that geographically contiguous units are demarcated in a manner in which the Muslims majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.

The resolution formed the basis of the freedom struggle that ensued resulting in what we know as Pakistan.

Of late Pakistan faced terrorist challenges which also threatened the economy, how is the situation now?

It pains me to inform that Pakistan has lost over 80,000 precious lives, incurred losses of more than USD 150 billion in the last two decades due to foreign terrorism networks and an imposed protracted war. In recent years Pakistan carried out Broad Spectrum Security (Counter Terrorism) operations in the affected areas and was successful in eradicating the scrounge of deteriorating law & order situation in the country.

As of now the law & security situation is widely under control except for one or two odd incidences remnants of foreign terrorist sleeper cells and spill overs from US withdrawal from Afghanistan. This improved law & security situation has allowed Pakistan to focus on commerce, trade, tourism, connectivity and activity, the New Pakistan, as we like to call it.

Pakistan is actively engaged with all relevant stakeholders including our neighbours, global powerhouses and others to come to table and discuss our differences on all issues particularly Kashmir for the common goal of regional peace & security, poverty eradication and common prosperity. The response has been not adequate but Pakistan plans to continue its efforts.

So how is the country’s economy faring

In contrast to the shrinking global economy, breakage of supply chain, productivity reduction, job cuts, lockdowns and fiscal contractions, Pakistan has been able to fend off the externalities with a remarkable strategy of smart lockdowns. Pakistan never went into full lockdown and was able to save the livelihood of most citizens thereby cushioning its economy. This year saw record exports by Pakistan as well record consumerism within the country.

Over here, I would like to thank our diasporas abroad for remitting much needed foreign exchange to their motherland which made all this possible.

Interesting. What are the country’s notable achievements over the last decade?

This is a difficult question. Pakistan has made strides over a broad spectrum of areas but those close to heart are healthcare and technology. From Military technologies to satellites, advance healthcare to education, entrepreneurship to women participation, Pakistan is moving forward strong in the right direction. Completion of north-south, east-west connectivity routes, commissioning of nuclear power plants, revamping the country’s healthcare system towards universal healthcare, COVID response & management, automation of legal & civic procedures, commissioning of PRSS-I Remote Sensing Satellite, strengthening of the minimum wage safety nets especially for widows and their dependants, completion of one billion tree tsunami program, medical & leisure tourism etc. The list goes on we can have a separate session on this.

Getting back to your mission in Zimbabwe. When was the Pakistan embassy established in Zimbabwe and which are the main areas of cooperation between Zimbabwe and Pakistan?

The Embassy was established in the 80s. Earlier our Embassy in the Republic of Mozambique was looking after Pak-Zimbabwe affairs.

To start with Pakistan and Zimbabwe have had excellent military cooperation over the years. Pakistan cooperated with Zimbabwe on establishing its Air Force. Air Marshal Mohammed Azim Daudpota, a Pakistani air officer, served as the Air Chief in the 80s. However, Pakistan strongly believes there is a strong need and room to further diversifying our bilateral relations, especially in the context of AfCFTA. We see future collaboration in healthcare, education, satellite technology, mining, data automation and construction.

Under Pakistan’s own “Engage Africa” framework we are educating and encouraging our private sector to invest in Africa. G2G engagement with Zimbabwe has seen a significant boosts as well despite the COVID pandemic. Overally Pakistan desires a symbiotic commercial & economic relationship based on mutual benefit, equality and respect.

Have you managed to attract Pakistan investors to Zimbabwe so far?

Yes, some of our businessmen have invested in automobile, steel, FMCG and mining sectors. The potential remains under capped. We have over 700 Pakistanis resident here. They are mostly intermediate to large businessmen.

Any other programs; social, cultural or educational programs the embassy is carrying out in Zimbabwe?

Pakistan offers educational scholarships in engineering and medicine under Pakistan Foreign Technical Assistance Programs. Training are further offered to Zimbabwean military officers and sportsmen. Unfortunately, due to COVID lockdowns our soft diplomacy initiatives have been negatively affected.



On a closing note, what’s your impression of Zimbabwe? The business environment, tourism attractions and the people in general

Fertile land, manageable young population, peaceful neighbours, geo-strategic location in terms of AfCFTA, law & order under control, burgeon democracy, connectivity and political will. Zimbabwe is surely a gifted country. It has immense potential in agriculture, tourism, transit trade, information technology and entrepreneurship. Zimbabwe needs to position itself as an entrepreneurial hub especially in context of the AfCFTA in order to attract more FDIs, FPIs and other forms of venture capital. Readjustment and perception management is proves vital.

I love the people here. I feel at home, happy and content. Zimbabwe’s direction is true. The political leadership has the will. I wish all the best to the brotherly country of Zimbabwe.

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