There are lessons for Pakistan to learn from the world powers’ aggressive diplomacy towards Africa as the region is full of promise in trade, tourism, industry, infrastructure, and energy sectors.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government realizing this vacuum in the foreign policy has successfully held Engage Africa Conference that aims at tapping the erstwhile dormant Foreign Office into action and to execute hidden potential that lies in African region that could be market
Pakistan’s ambassador to Morocco Hamid Asghar Khan made these reassuring views in an informal meeting with media persons at the Islamabad Club.
Ambassador Hamid said Prime Minister Imran Khan, FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood took keen interest in the presentation given about African countries’ potential and fully endorsed the idea and directed all out efforts to accomplish the goals in this regard.
The ambassador was of the view that as a result of the government’s ‘Look Africa’ doctrine and to diversify its foreign policy, six new missions are opening soon in the countries of the African continent. These countries include Angola, Rwanda, Djibouti, Uganda, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Besides, an equal number of commercial consulates will be opened in Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Senegal and Nigeria, said the ambassador. Pakistan currently faces two challenges in rejuvenating its Foreign Policy towards African countries, said the ambassador. First, there is little awareness about Pakistan in African and secondly, there is little awareness about African in Pakistan.
I have also put forward a suggestion to appoint press attaches in various Pakistani missions of African countries so that Pakistani products, its tourism potential as well as rich culture and traditions could be highlighted there, he further said.
At present total volume of China-Africa trade is touching US $ 150 billion while Africa-Turkey trade is about US $ 50 billion, said the ambassador. Even India-African trade volume is much higher (US$ 70 billion) than Pakistan-Africa trade figures (US $4.3 billion) said the ambassador.
Ambassador Hamid said realizing the huge trade potential in Africa, Turkey has established its embassy which is the largest Turkish mission anywhere in the country in Somalia.
Out of 54 African countries, Pakistan has foreign missions only in 15 countries despite the fact 27 countries of African region are members of the OIC, he further said.
Ambassador Hamid said it is time we should look for out-of-box solutions and the present government has realizing that has already initiated strong diplomacy. India after every three years, holds a summit with African countries and Pakistan too needs to engage these potentially rich countries in such conferences and summits for closer economic cooperation, he said.
Ambassador Hamid Asghar Khan also highlighted importance of military diplomacy and “in this regard an invitation has been extended to Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to visit Morocco.”.
We are particularly interested in four areas to promote and project our foreign policy in African. They are namely, political engagement through Pakistani missions, commercial engagement through chambers and business and commerce forums, military to military cooperation and projection of soft image.
Ambassador Hamid informed that Special Assistant to PM on Information & Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has directed the PTV to provide popular TV dramas to Pakistani missions in Africa free of cost so that they could be dubbed in the local language and telecast on their TV channels. Sports diplomacy is also part of our policy to bring Pakistan and the African nations closer, he said. To a question, he said Pakistani top movie star Humayun Saeed has agreed to shoot his next movie in Morocco and Pakistani mission will extend all possible support to him in this regard.