22 May | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Think-tank on Africa to revive bonds thru exchanges, connectivity

Ambassador Suhail Mahmood appreciates Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed’s farsightedness in outreach to Africa initiative

The Centre for Afghanistan Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) organized a seminar at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) in the federal capital for the launch of the Pakistan Africa Institute for Development and Research (PAIDAR) with former federal minister Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed as its president.

The thematic focus of the seminar was on reviving the Bandung spirit of Afro-Asian solidarity, and Pakistan-Africa relations. CAMEA Director Amina Khan moderated the event. Delivering a keynote address, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the launch of this think tank coincides with the 69th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, emphasizing Africa’s pivotal role in the South with 54 African Union members.

He underscored Pakistan’s longstanding ties with Africa, dating back to pre-independence when Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah initiated relations with Egypt in 1946. He outlined PAIDAR’s objectives, aiming to reinvigorate Pakistan-Africa relations through people-to-people and business-to-business exchanges. He said that this think tank seeks to prioritize mutual interests, promoting cooperation in education, environment, trade, energy, and sustainable development goals.

Ambassador Arshad Jan Pathan says it is ‘will of bureaucracy’ that is lacking to make ‘Engage Africa’ policy a success

ISSI Director General Ambassador Sohail Mahmood; Ambassador of Morocco, and Dean of African Envoys Corps Mohammed Karmoune; Kenyan High Commissioner Mary Nyambura Kamau; Ambassador of Ethiopia Jemal Beker Abdulla; Pakistan’s High Commissioner to South Africa Aftab Hassan; Pakistan’s Ambassador to African Union Atif Sharif Mian, and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Mauratius Arshad Jan Pathan also addressed the event.

ISSI Chairman Ambassador Khalid Mahmood; Assistant Professor Dr Bashir Bahar and Assistant Professor Dr Ismail Adaramola from the International Islamic University Islamabad; United Business Group Secretary General Zafar Bakhtawri, and Additional Secretary for Africa at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shehryar Akbar Khan also joined the event.

In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood appreciated the inspiring efforts of Senator Mushahid Husain Sayed throughout his professional life and his latest initiative of establishing PAIDAR, which aims to sharpen Pakistan’s focus on Africa through promotion of academic research and development partnerships. He said it was fitting that this launch ceremony recalled the Bandung spirit – dating back to 1955 when 29 countries from Asia and Africa met in Indonesia.

He recalled the contribution of the Bandung Conference to the international community’s subsequent efforts for global peace as well as cooperation among the developing countries. He particularly highlighted Pakistan’s whole-hearted support for the liberation struggles of the African nations and Pakistan’s contribution to Africa’s peace and security through consistent participation in the UN Peacekeeping operations since 1960. He said that Pakistan’s overall engagement with Africa has been growing in recent years.

In 2019, Pakistan expanded scope of collaboration within the framework of its Engage Africa policy aimed at enlarging Islamabad’s diplomatic footprint in Africa and deepening economic partnership with the continent. For Pakistan, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood said that deeper engagement with Africa remains a strategic imperative. Forging a strong and effective partnership for peace, progress and prosperity was an indispensable goal, which should be advanced through a clear vision, consistent policy, and a long-term strategy, he said.

In her remarks, Amina Khan said that Pakistan’s commitment to engaging with Africa was underscored by Pakistan’s comprehensive Engage Africa policy. Recognizing Africa’s potential as the ‘continent of the future,’ and in line with the Engage Africa policy, CAMEA was established in 2020 to fortify relations with Africa, as well as to assist the government in chalking out a roadmap for future cooperation with the African continent. She said that CAMEA looked forward to working with PAIDAR to further Pakistan’s ties with Africa.

Ambassador Mohammed Karmoune said that Pakistan and Africa need to work together to launch joint ventures in different economic sectors. He said that development could be achieved mainly through science and technology, agriculture, industrial cooperation and the promotion of trade and investments. Ambassador Jemal Beker said that Pakistan’s ‘Look Africa’ and ‘Engage Africa’ policies were steps in the right direction, which have led to the establishment of Ethiopia’s Mission in Islamabad as well as the commencement of Ethiopian airline’s direct flights to Pakistan.

High Commissioner Mary Nyambura Kamau highlighted cooperation between Pakistan and Africa, which she said was characterized by multifaceted collaboration at various levels, demonstrating strength and resilience of the bond. To fortify cooperation, she stressed importance of engagement with regional economic communities in Africa, such as ECCAS, ECOWAS, AMU, SADC, and EAC. Additionally, she urged Pakistan to focus on enhancing economic cooperation in trade, investment, joint ventures, tourism, and technology through regional blocks and bilateral levels.

Mary Nyambura Kamau suggests engagement with ECCAS, ECOWAS, AMU, and other economic communities in Africa

Ambassador Aftab Hassan said that there was a pressing need for developing robust high-level contacts between Pakistan and African nations as well as strengthening institutional mechanisms to sustain long-term cooperation. In this context, he suggested practical measures to further deepen diplomatic, economic, and people-to-people engagement with Africa. Ambassador Atif Sharif Mian stated that Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with Ethiopia in recognition of her geo-economic potential and in line with Pakistan’s ‘Engage Africa’ policy. The Ethiopian leadership also espouses closer relations with Pakistan, he said.

Ambassador Arshad Jan Pathan said that the 21st century belongs to Afro-Asia continents. “It is not political will that is lacking; it is the will of bureaucracy that is lacking to make the ‘Engage Africa’ policy a success,” he said, adding that all stakeholders, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce, have to work together to make the policy a collective success. He highlighted challenges in the way of Pakistan’s increased collaboration with Africa-related regional platforms and proposed that PAIDAR should suggest solutions for addressing them.

On the occasion, Zafar Bakhtawri stressed the need for exploring business opportunities and increasing presence of African missions in Pakistan and Pakistani missions in Africa. He highlighted the necessity for comprehensive exploration across various sectors to foster stronger ties between Pakistan and Africa. Dr Bashir Bahar and Dr Ismail Adaramola shared their views about important role Pakistan has played in providing quality education to students from Africa in various universities of Pakistan.

Under the ‘Engage Africa’ policy, Shehryar Akbar Khan said that Pakistan remains committed to promoting peace, prosperity, and shared progress between the people of Pakistan and Africa. Under the policy, phase-I has been successfully executed. “Pakistan’s further diplomatic missions in Africa will be established incrementally,” he said, and highlighted that the ministry has processed 10 memorandums of understanding in the past seven months on establishing political consultations with various African countries.