Press Release – Public Talk “Celebrating Africa Day”

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Press Release
Public Talk
Celebrating Africa Day
May 25, 2022

The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) had a Public Talk to celebrate Africa Day.

The distinguished speakers included: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Ambassador Ali Javed, Additional Foreign Secretary Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, General Nadeem Raza, NI (M), Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; Dr. Peter Mathuki, Secretary General East African Community (EAC) and H.E. Mohammed Karmoune, Dean of the African Corps and Ambassador of Morocco to Pakistan.

Representatives from African missions in Pakistan, Pakistani missions in Africa, non-residential African missions to Pakistan, academics, members of the business community and students also joined the celebration. Stalls depicting African culture were also set up on the occasion.

While giving his remarks, the Foreign Minister first extended heartiest felicitations to the people of Africa. He said Africa day celebrates the African peoples’ heroic struggles for emancipation from colonial rule as well as the rich cultural heritage and immense economic potential. Pakistan is proud of its role in supporting African freedom movements through political and diplomatic means. Pakistan and Africa’s common history provides the  basis of the mutual trust that makes both of them natural allies. He went on to highlight that Africa is home to 12 of the 25 fastest growing economies of the world. Today Africa is a powerhouse of 1.4 billion that generates a collective GDP of 2.6 trillion dollars and has become of late the world’s largest inter-trade space, he stated.

The Foreign Minister also said that Pakistan has a long and rich history of maintaining friendly relations with Africa which predates the establishment of the African Union. Pakistan has extended development assistance where needed and supported key capacity building initiatives throughout the continent. He noted that political, economic and security arrangements between  both sides remained on an upward trajectory. Pakistan has resolved to further enhance trade and investment which remain below potential. It is also Pakistan’s desire to cooperate with the regional economic communities in Africa especially those lying in our closest proximity such as the East African Community and ECOWAS. Pakistan and Africa have traditionally enjoyed close defense and security cooperation and growing cooperation in counterterrorism, which illustrates a new dimension in our overall security cooperation. In the past twenty years Pakistan has contributed over 120,000 troops and 168 Pakistani military officers and soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice while performing peacekeeping duties in the African continent. He concluded by saying, “I reiterate our firm commitment to forging a stronger partnership with Africa in all areas of mutual endeavor and I reaffirm Pakistan’s full support to the aspiration of the African people for peace, progress and development . Long live Pakistan-Africa friendship”.

During the opening session, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI extended his welcome to all participants. Africa Day is a tradition the ISSI started in 2019 and is essentially to celebrate the progress African countries are making towards their economic development. He particularly thanked the African ambassadors in Pakistan as well as Pakistani Ambassadors in various African missions. He said the process of celebrating Africa day is in line with Pakistan’s mission to engage with Africa in economic and commercial domains and this event will contribute to raising awareness that relations with Africa are of paramount importance for Pakistan.

The Plenary  Session was moderated by Ms. Amina Khan, Director CAMEA.

During her remarks, she said that one of the main objectives of  CAMEA is to identify areas of mutual interest between Pakistan and Africa and find avenues to establish and further consolidate  Pakistan’s ties with the African continent  through its  Engage Africa policy – therefore it gives us immense pleasure to be holding today’s event as we did last year. The theme of Africa Day 2022 is “Food and Nutrition Security” –  The general objective of the theme is to secure greater political commitment and investment in nutrition as well as to address the ongoing nutrition challenges not only faced by Africa but also all over the world. Pakistan-Africa relations are deeply embedded in the moral and material assistance it has provided to the independence movements of various African states. Moreover,  Africa has long been considered as a land of unexplored opportunities for Pakistan,  and keeping this premise in mind, under its Engage Africa’ policy,  Pakistan has been exploring a number of  avenues to further strengthen its bilateral ties with African nations be it politically, economically or in the realm of defense ties.  A testament of the importance Pakistan accords to Africa is evident by the opening up of new missions in different parts of  Africa, and that our three latest missions have been established in Rwanda, Djibouti and  the Ivory Coast.

General Nadeem Raza, NI (M) stated that Africa day represents human spirit, sacrifices, love for peace and prosperity and a will to play a significant role in the global arena. Fraternal relations between Pakistan and African nations are spread over decades. Similarities  of challenges faced by both sides offer enormous scope in multiple domains, including those in defense cooperation, which is an important strain in Pakistan’s ‘Engage Africa Policy’. Pakistan has made a great contribution in African peace and stability  and is among the leading troop contributing countries to date – presently more than 4000 peacekeepers are deployed in various UN missions in Africa. He reiterated firmly that bonds of goodwill and friendly partnership between Pakistan and Africa will grow in the future.

Dr.Peter Mathuk said that

Ambassador Mohammed Karmoune said that Africa Day is a chance to reflect on the cooperation between Pakistan and the African continent and is an opportunity to explore the best means to move forward such as through the  African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). On the diplomatic front, he said, Pakistan has announced opening of new embassies in Africa and trade exchange between Africa and Pakistan has reached 4.8 billion dollars. He went on to say that Africans would like to see Pakistani investors engage in joint ventures in the fields of agriculture, banking, IT, digital economy, textiles, pharmaceuticals among other areas. More actions are needed to boost investment and further increase the volume of trade between the two sides and to give a chance to business cooperation that can further be reinforced in areas of mutual interest. Chambers of commerce on both sides in both Africa and Pakistan  can share their expertise in different areas. This includes promoting the establishment of direct maritime links, promoting links to facilitate people mobility and visiting business delegations and exploring the possibility of establishing financial institutions. People to people exchange will further promote understanding between the two sides, he said.

In his remarks on the Pakistan Government’s Engage Africa policy, Mr Ali Javed said that the future of Pak-Africa ties is in good hands. Pakistan’s increasing  diplomatic presence in Africa is an evidence of this. More than 35 African nations are accredited to Pakistan but Pakistan must ensure engagement with them and work on sustaining its bilateral engagement with African nations. He further added that Counter Terrorism (CT) operations has become a very important subject globally. Since Pakistan has also been dealing with CT, this is a very pertinent area where the two sides can cooperate. He said Pakistan is  trying to promote two- way tourism and learn about new and unique cultures. He said, “we are proud that several hundred African diplomats have received training in Pakistan and as has been the case with military and naval training,  there will be joint military drills in the future as well.” It is essential that  Pakistan and Africa closely cooperate so that both sides benefit from the vast potential  this relationship holds.

During his remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG ISSI said that Pakistan and Africa need to work towards turning their relationship into a substantive partnership. Some of the African countries have made good success in the promotion of human rights. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, if fully implemented will be very beneficial. Even though many say this is the age of Asian century, I believe this will be the African century, he stated.  Pakistan has very good relations with Africa and has been very supportive of the independent struggles of the African countries. Now there is a growing commercial and military cooperation where a large potential exists.

An interactive discussion followed where participants shared their views where they all applauded the achievements of the African Union. Speakers reiterated the importance of Africa and said it is one of the prime destinations for Pakistani goods and services. Speakers stated that Africa is a resource rich country and Pakistan has to engage with Africa through the many windows of opportunity particularly in the fields of energy, pharmaceutical and agriculture. Speakers also outlined how Africa will be the focus of many global economies in the future so the opportunity should not be missed out by Pakistan.