Steps needed to expand Pak diplomatic footprint in Africa, strengthen economic ties

Zubair Qureshi

Pakistan needs to take practical steps to expand diplomatic footprint in Africa and deepen its economic engagement with the continent. This was said by Director General Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) Ambassador Sohail Mahmood at an in-house session with Heads of Mission of African countries.

The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) had organized the event.

Sohail Mahmood shared a historical perspective on Pakistan-Africa relations and highlighted the main contours of Pakistan’s ‘Engage Africa’ policy.

The session was addressed by Mohammed Karmoune, Dean of the African Corps and Ambassador of Morocco; Mthuthuzeli Madikiza, High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa; Salih Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed Siddig, Ambassador of Sudan; M. Nyambura Kamau, High Commissioner of Kenya; Rashid Ally Soobadar, High Commissioner of Mauritius; Mohammed Bello Abioye, High Commissioner of Nigeria; and Mr. Shirwa Abdullahi Ibrahim, Charge d’ Affaires of Somalia.

During the meeting, views were exchanged on the myriad dimensions of Pakistan-Africa relations. The African envoys shared their thoughts on the level of mutual cooperation and underscored the desire for deeper collaboration in diverse fields including political, economic and people-to-people exchanges.

Ambassador Sohail added that Pakistan’s policy was further driven by the pivot to geo-economics. The participants highlighted various areas of mutual cooperation and identified prospects for increased trade and investment as well as opportunities in the wake of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

It was agreed to maintain regular mutual dialogue, facilitate interface with the private sector, and strengthen linkages with academic institutions and think-tanks. Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG ISSI, and Amina Khan Director, also spoke on the occasion.