TARIQ SAUD Hon. Consul General of Romania
talks to Centreline and DNA
Tariq Saud is a prominent businessman from Karachi. He has recently been appointed as Hon. Consul of Romania to Karachi. After his appointment he gave an exclusive interview to Centreline and Diplomatic News Agency (DNA). Here are excerpts from his interview.
By Atif Farooqi & Farhan Khan
Can you first tell our readers about yourself and your businesses?
I graduated from Punjab. We have a family business, we were in textile business and we were in shipping business. I joined my business in 76 and that time we were having about 50,000 spenders in mills in Dhabeji.This was in 1976, when I started looking after the textile, so my other brothers were looking after businesses such as sugar, paints, shipping.
Apart from being a businessman, I used to be very good sportsman .I used to play hockey for Pakistan camp and attended many times all the camps but I never went to Pakistan team because I was looking after my business. So, paying a lot of interest in my businesses as you know textile is the backbone of Pakistan. I have a passion for doing social work as well and I am involved in many social work related activities for quite some time now.
We established, Nazaryaee Pakistan Trust Sindh, and then we started working for the poor students. As you know in Karachi there are about 3,500 government schools, so nobody was paying any attention to those students they were poor, we started giving them scholarships, twelve years back, those students, who are getting more than 80% in the 9th class in the board, we used to give them scholarship, 3000 per scholarship for all the girls and boys. This is very important because this is a sector which was neglected all the time. Then we started speech competition among all the schools. We gave them some Ashaar of Allama Iqbal or sayings of Quaid-e-Azam for their speech competition.
The other major program we were doing was to educate the inmates of prisons from the last twelve years in the Sindh. We don’t call them prisoners because they are also Pakistanis. In the prisons we used to go and had award ceremony there. We have short courses; we have a program of Literate Pakistan. From there we select some teachers from inside the prisons. We used to pay some handsome salary to them in the prisons and they used to teach the prisoners, inmates of jails of Sindh.
I was also very active in APTAMA, All Pakistan Trade Mills Association is the largest association of Pakistan businessmen. I was previously elected chairman Sindh and Balochistan and remained three times chairman Sindh and Balochistan and two times central vice chairman of APTAMA.
I am also member of Karachi Council for Foreign Affairs. This is also a diplomatic corps. So for the last so many years, I used to meet all the diplomats. APTAMA is playing very vital role. Textile is backbone of our country and we are getting 60 percent of revenue of Pakistan through it.
How do you see Pakistan, Romania relations and how can these relations be strengthened?
This is very important question because I am here to build an image of Pakistan and also I want very good relations between Romania. Romania is hub of Europe, so strategic value of Romania is very important. We are in textile sector business we have lots of friends in leather business, construction, dairy and all fields. This is very important for me to build good image of Pakistan. You see law and order situation is worse in Pakistan. I have to bring the investment by convincing them that Pakistan provides level playing field for businessmen. When I will start, I will go and approach them, I will contact all the chambers over there and the trade bodies and my trade bodies as well.
People are very keen to have very good relations with Romania because they are very good people. When I met former Prime Minister, he said they are very good people, and our Ambassador told us. We are hearing from my friends, all other friends so this we have to build up the image of Pakistan. We are here to build the image of Pakistan and to get businesses from Romania. Last time you see our counsel to Karachi Foreign Affairs called about thirteen Ambassadors in Karachi. So when, I met the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gillani, when I said. “We just had a meeting of 13 ambassadors in Karachi they came to Karachi. They met Sindh speaker, Nisar Khoro, they met Governor, they met Chief Minister, they met businessesmen and they stayed about two to three days. He said “This is what I want”. So this is very important, we have to provide them with very good platform.
As Hon. Counsel of Romania in Karachi what kind of steps you plan to take in order to promote and further strengthen Pak, Romania relations?
Actually, I talked to many business people. We are preparing to take our people, our delegation good businessmen to Romania. They can meet the chambers there, they can meet the businessmen as well. When they sit together they will have dialogues with one another. So definitely it will bring lots of change. Karachi is very important and is a hub of Pakistan we have to make them sure this is a very very good place for the investment.
How do you see the Pakistan Romania Business Council role in strengthen relations in your guidance the honorary counsel?
The business council for Romania in Karachi is composed of young people, I met them two three times. Last time I met in the cruise, they are doing lovely job and I think they are with me, I am with them because being Karachite we are here and we all are a team, I am not the only one. Team will work. I believe in team not in a single man. My efforts are always there for promotion of people to people contacts as well.
Do you think Romania businessmen can have good business prospects if they come here and establish businesses and vice versa?
Why not, when they will come to Pakistan, they will have lots of opportunities, lots of businesses over here. Pakistan is doing business to other European countries. You say every time many people, lots of people going to Germany, why not people go to Romania if the labor is cheap, they have lots of potential. When they will go they will see all the opportunities over there, they will discuss, they will have meetings with them. I think they will definitely come to Pakistan and Pakistan people they will export to Romania lots of things because all businessmen are doing business in Europe.
What do you think is the main challenge for foreign businessmen?
The main challenge is law and order. After election, I think all the things will be settled and we hope law and order situation will improve. I am expecting and I hope so Inshallah that the situation will improve and which government will come after the next election it will be friendly government in my opinion and let’s hope for the best. I am very optimistic.
How would you comment on Romania embassy and Romanian ambassador’s efforts for promotion of relations between two countries?
Excellent. He is a wonderful person. I met him many times in Islamabad, I think about eight-nine month before. Then I met him in other meetings. He is excellent man. He is very energetic man, down to earth; he is very friendly person, lot of potential. You can gain lots of things from him. He is itself a university.
As a businessman how to do you see business climate in Pakistan. Do you think there is still huge scope for foreign investors here?
Yes after one or two months, after the election we can have a very good prospect. One thing I am missing is the education, we have to work on education. I will try with the help of your counsel to promote education also because I am doing this since last twelve years. So my priority will be the education sector. I hope that I am foreseeing that the good time is coming and things will improve and investment will come in Pakistan in my opinion. I am very much optimistic.
How do you see opening of Romanian consulate in Karachi?
People are very happy. Big groups like Gul Ahmed, Al-Karam, Orient and the other groups, are very much interested and I am also trying to make a counsel for Friends of Counsel General. So this will also be very helpful and you people are working and they will work, senior people come and we will join hands with all the people because I don’t have any issue to discuss with the people to come here and know. My doors are open and we have to work because this is now my duty. This is my passion.
Anything that you would like to add?
I have gone through Centreline magazine, which is an excellent piece of work. I am here to support you in any type whatever you want, all the time I am here with you and you people. My message to readers is that they should go for this magazine as it encompasses diplomatic as well other areas comprehensively. The Centreline pool of writers comprises experienced people which are good for magazine and reader as well.