An Exclusive Interview with new High Commissioner for Pakistan in Australia H.E. Mr. Babar Amin

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Interviewer : Muhammad Asif

Q.1      Please tell us about your previous experiences in the foreign office and postings abroad?

 Ans. I started my career in the Foreign Service of Pakistan as a Desk Officer and have worked on numerous regions and multilateral organizations in the initial years. Later as Director, I have worked on Europe and South East Asia regions besides serving as Director Foreign Secretary’s Office.

As Director General, I have worked as DG (China & SCO), DG (Central Asia & ECO) and DG (Policy Planning & Public Diplomacy)

I have served in Pakistan Missions in Romania, Austria, China (Beijing). India and China (Guangzhou).

I was assigned as Additional Secretary/National Coordinator (SCO) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, before being posted to Australia.

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H.E. Babar Amin High Commissioner for Pakistan

 Q.2      How do you see Pakistan-Australia relations?

 Ans. Pakistan established its diplomatic relations with Australia in 1948. The bilateral ties are well founded and strong with deep rooted and shared commonwealth experience, similar legal and administrative systems derived from British Common Law, Westminster style democracies and English language.

Pakistan and Australia share the common desire to promote global peace, stability, development and security.  The two countries have a strong mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of agriculture, education, health, defence and socio-economic sectors. Both sides share the desire for sustaining and further fortifying the existing bonds of friendship. The economic content of bilateral ties is deepening and expanding. There are approximately a hundred Australian companies that have direct or indirect involvement in business activity in Pakistan and are enjoying good dividends from it.

The most sustaining link between Pakistan and Australia is provided by the Pakistan Diaspora living in Australia. Our diaspora has grown to around 100,000 strong community which is positively contributing to the development of Australia through its integrative initiatives and hard work. A large proportion of Pakistanis in Australia are professionals, doctors, engineers, I.T and software experts, professors, civil servants, and businessmen. Pakistanis also contribute to skilled and technical manpower of Australia. They are thus, making valuable contribution to the Australian society and its economic development, which, is well recognized here.

It is also heartening to note that there are approximately 13,000 Pakistani students in Australia and their number is growing. This aspect of bilateral ties further reinforces our long-lasting relations.

Q.3 What challenges do you see in your current role as a High Commissioner and how will you cope with these challenges?

Ans. In my role as High Commissioner for Pakistan, I aim at further expanding the already existing cooperation in bilateral, multilateral and trade spheres.  I also intend to explore new avenues in this regard. I alongwith my team have already started working on this, and the challenges would be tackled along the way appropriately. Nonetheless, some of the key challenges are as follows;

  • Increasing the volume of trade both ways and promote a balanced trade,
  • Strengthening economic cooperation including FDI,
  • Enhancing the socio-cultural exchanges between the art/ cultural and musical groups and organizations of both the countries,
  • Publicising the tourism potential of Pakistan and attracting more Australian tourists,
  • Further strengthening educational cooperation and developing institutional linkages,
  • Facilitating the sports teams of both the countries for bilateral tours and learning from each other’s experiences in sports

Q.4     What will be your priority in improving the bilateral ties between the two countries?

 Ans.    Besides political domain, trade and economic cooperation and projecting soft image of Pakistan are our priority areas that I keenly desire to improve. We would like enhancement of balanced trade.  Australia’s FDI to Pakistan has shown improvement from US$ 3.0 million (FY 2016-17) to US$ 7.20 million (FY 2017-18). Similarly, home remittances from Australia increased from US$ 204.31 million (FY 2016-17) to US$ 228.35 million (FY 2017-18). There is, however, a lot of room for further expansion in trade.

We would showcase art and craft, performing arts, cultural heritage and tourism potential of Pakistan.

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H.E. Babar Amin H C. for Pakistan and Mr. Muhammad Asif

Q.5 Do you think there is a room for improvement in the current relations between the two countries?

Ans.  Yes, there is always room for improvement. As I mentioned above, there is room for further improvement in the following areas:

  • Increasing the volume of trade both ways,
  • Enhancing Australian investments in Pakistan,
  • Enhancing the socio-cultural exchanges between the art/ cultural and musical groups and organizations of both the countries,
  • Publicising the tourism potential of Pakistan thus attracting more Australian tourists,
  • Facilitating the sports teams of both the countries for bilateral tours and learning from each other’s experiences in sports,
  • Further high-level interaction at political level which have been pending,
  • Clean energy technologies (including clean coal, wind and renewables),
  • Medical technologies,

Q.6      How can the current govt facilitate in fulfilling your goals?

 Ans. The government has a very clear agenda both for the internal and external affairs of the country. The Prime Minister recently visited Foreign Office and besides giving his key messages and targets to the Foreign Office, assured the Missions abroad of the full support of the government in carrying out their responsibilities.

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H.E. Babar Amin H C. for Pakistan

 Q7. Trade has been a big factor in enhancing the relations between the countries, how can trade be utilized to further enhance these bilateral ties?

 Ans. Global priorities of the countries are changing; geo-economics is gradually replacing the importance of Geopolitics. The transition is marked by the start of the process we call Globalization, which is about two decades old now, but still in its infancy. Trade is our priority area and I am certain that stronger bilateral ties would be further strengthened.

 Q.8 What are some of the other benefits Pakistan can gain from Australia and vice versa?

 Ans. Pakistan is committed to a mutually beneficial cooperation and partnership with Australia in all fields that would result in progress and further prosperity in both the countries. I have already mentioned name of the areas of cooperation. There are other areas such as water management, food and energy security, sustainable climate, resilient agricultural practices and strengthened national capacity and coordination where both the countries can enter into a mutually beneficial cooperation.

Capacity building is our important area where Pakistan is benefitting from Australia assistance.  Arrangements for training of ‘Master Trainers’ in the health, education, agriculture and water management sectors can prove to highly beneficial both ways. Pakistan has the advantage of a very young population, which after proper training and education would not only fulfil domestic demand but also could be utilized by other counties, including Australia, to fulfil their human resource needs.

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H.E. Babar Amin H C. for Pakistan

Q.9      Where do you see the relations between Pakistan and Australia in the near future?

 Ans. The current trajectory of relations and momentum generated is satisfying and reassuring. It provides a sound basis for the future of Pak-Australia relations to continuously ascend.

Q.10 Pakistan Government is expecting overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan, how can their investment is safe guarded to ensure their hard earned money is a safe investment?

Ans.    Pakistan has always had one of the best investment regimes in the region.  Foreign and multinational corporations doing business in Pakistan have higher rates of return than their operations in other regional countries. The Prime Minister has mentioned on many occasions, that the government is further strengthening the national institutions and ensuring good governance to safeguard foreign investments in Pakistan. While investing the overseas Pakistanis need to first contact for advice the Board of Investment (BOI), which is a part of Prime Minister’s Office.   This will ensure that their investments are safeguarded and they are properly guided about investment opportunities, incentives, rules and regulations.

 Q.11 There are many overseas Pakistanis thinking to moving back to Pakistan and play their role in building New Pakistan. How would the Government help them in playing their role?

Ans. The government recognizes the great contribution of overseas Pakistanis to the nation building. The overseas Pakistanis intending to move to Pakistan, however, need to do it in a planned manner. Those intending may get in touch with the Ministry of Ministry of Overseas Pakistani and Human Resources while planning in this regard.

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Mr. Mohammed Abid Editor Sangat Magazine and H. E Babar Amin H C. for Pakistan

Q.12   What message would you like to convey to the Pakistan community in Australia?

 Ans.    Pakistani community in Australia is an asset for Pakistan.  I highly appreciate their positive contribution to the development of Australia and projecting a good image of Pakistan and its people.  Our community has also always lent its valuable support to Pakistan. I would like to urge our community to continue to play their role in acting as a bridge in fostering closer relations between the two friendly countries.

 

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