In 2013, Brazil and Pakistan celebrate 65 years of friendly diplomatic relations. The establishment of diplomatic relations happened on the immediate aftermath of the Pakistani independence, in 1948. That was first diplomatic connection between the new South Asian state and Latin America. Brazilian and Pakistani ties were strengthened shortly after that, with Pakistan opening its first Embassy in Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, in 1951, and Brazil being the first Latin American country to establish an Embassy in Karachi, the following year.
Brazil was the 30th country to establish an Embassy in Karachi. In 1952, besides Brazil, the following countries had Embassies in the first Pakistani capital: Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Holy See, Italy, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, West Germany and Yugoslavia. After Brazil, the second Latin American country to open an Embassy in Pakistan was Cuba, in 1959, which was the 38th Embassy to open in Karachi.
The first Brazilian Ambassador to Pakistan arrived in Karachi on September 17, 1952. H.E. Moacyr Ribeiro Briggs was accompanied by his wife, and reached Karachi on a flight of Air Ceylon, coming from Mumbai. The new Ambassador was driven directly to the building in which the Embassy would temporarily function during its initial moment: the Metropole Hotel. Now out of use, the Metropole Hotel used to be on of the central points of high life in Karachi.
A week after his arrival, on 25th September 1952, Ambassador Briggs inspected a guard of honor and presented credentials to the Governor-General of Pakistan, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad, in the Governor-General’s House, in Karachi. The Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. M. A. Baig, was present at this ceremony, which marked the first time a Brazilian representative was formally accredited as Ambassador to Pakistan.
On 1st October 1952, the offices (Chancery) of the Embassy of Brazil were installed on its first non-temporary location: the 6th floor of the El-Markaz Builing, at Preedy Quarter, on Bunder Road, Karachi. On the beginning of the following year (19th March 1953), only six months after his arrival, Ambassador Briggs shifted the Official Residence of the Embassy of Brazil to its then permanent location, a large house on Victoria Road, no. 6, Karachi 4, currently known as Abdullah Haroon Road.
The Official Residence of Ambassador Briggs on Victoria Road was inaugurated on 16th April 1953, with a lavish reception, having as Chief Guest the then Prime Minister, Mr. Khwja Nazimuddin. Also present at the reception, among other influent personalities, were the Governor of Sindh, Mr. Mian Aminuddin, the Governor of Punjab, Mr. T. T. Chundrigar, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Tamizuddin Khan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, other 12 Federal Ministers and all the foreign ambassadors resident in Karachi.
The second Ambassador of Brazil to Pakistan was H.E. Hugo Manhães Bethlem, who followed Ambassador Briggs in 1954. Ambassador Bethlem presented credentials to the Governor-General, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad, in Karachi, on 26th July of that year. A list of all Ambassadors of Brazil to Pakistan can be found at the end of this article.
Thousands of miles away, the Embassy of Pakistan in Brazil was established even before the Embassy of Brazil opened in Karachi. It was installed in Rio de Janeiro, then capital of Brazil, in 1951. Similarly to the Brazilian Embassy in Karachi, the Pakistani Embassy in Brazil was provisionally installed on the 10th floor of the Novo Mundo Hotel, on Flamengo Beach no. 20, Rio de Janeiro, by a Pakistani Diplomat named Naseem Haider. The first Pakistani Ambassador to Brazil arrived by ship to Rio de Janeiro, early in the following year (February, 1952).
Mr. Qazi Mohammed Isa arrived in Rio de Janeiro coming from New York City, and presented credentials to President Getúlio Vargas on March 1952, at the Catete Presidential Palace, in Rio de Janeiro. President Vargas is considered one of the most important Presidents in the history of Brazil. He died tragically on August 1954, after taking his own life at the peak of a political domestic crisis.
On March 1952, Ambassador Isa shifted his Official Residence from the Novo Mundo Hotel to a comfortable house on Visconde de Albuquerque Avenue no. 237, Leblon, a noble neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. On that same month, the offices of the Embassy of Pakistan were installed on Pompeu Loureiro Street no. 48, in the famous area of Copacabana.
Ambassador Isa was succeeded at the head of the Embassy of Pakistan in Brazil by Princess Abida Sultan, the second Ambassador of Pakistan to Brazil. Princess Abida arrived in Rio de Janeiro on February 1957. On March 1957, she presented credentials to President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, who became famous for being the responsible for the construction of Brasilia, the new capital of Brazil, which he inaugurated at the end of his government, in 1960.
In that same period, Pakistan was also building a new capital, Islamabad. Aiming at this shift in capitals, in 1961 the Embassy of Brazil started renting the house Constantia Main, on Viewforth Road, in Murree, for the use of the Ambassador. Thereon, from 1961 until 1967, the Ambassador of Brazil spent summers in Murree, while his Official Residence was still in Karachi.
It is worth noting that, until in 1966, only 13 Embassies had been officially installed in Rawalpindi or Islamabad: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, China, Ghana, France, India, Indonesia, Soviet Union, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America and West Germany. At that time, five Embassies had summer houses in Murree: Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. All other Embassies remained in Karachi only.
In 1968, the Embassy of Brazil was officially shifted to Murree and Islamabad. In the same year, the offices of the Embassy were installed at the Shahrazad Hotel, on Constitution Avenue, Islamabad. Later, the premises of the Shahrazad Hotel started being used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as they are until the present days. Although the Official Residence of the Brazilian Ambassador had been shifted to Murree and Islamabad, the offices and residence of the Embassy of Brazil in Karachi were kept for the use of the Brazilian Government until 1972.
Later in 1968, the Official Residence of the Brazilian Ambassador was shifted from Murree to F-6/3, House 4 Hill Road, Islamabad. That house was used as the Official Residence of the Embassy of Brazil for 39 years, until 2007, when it became a restaurant, called Majlis. In 2007, the Residence of the Embassy of Brazil was shifted to F-6/2 and later, in 2010, it shifted again to F-7-3, House 14, Street 66, where it has been located since then. The house in Murree was kept for the use of the Brazilian Ambassador, as a summer retreat, until 1996.
The offices of the Embassy were shifted from the Hotel Shahrazad to G-6/4, House 486-F. In 1973, the Chancery was shifted again, to F-6/3, House 194 Embassy Road (today called Ataturk Avenue). The Chancery had been installed at that house for 37 years, until 2010, when it shifted to F-8/3, House 1, Street 72, where it is presently located.
Cultural ties are an example of the long history of Brazil-Pakistan cooperation
To mark the first two decades of relationship between Brazil and Pakistan, in 1968, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Mr. José de Magalhães Pinto, visited Islamabad and Karachi, and signed the first bilateral treaty between the two countries – the Cultural Agreement. This treaty marks the starting point of cultural links that have been growing even stronger in the past few years. It shows that, since the beginning, Brazil and Pakistan wanted to foster people to people contacts and develop closer links between their societies.
And the Agreement started functioning in great style, in March of that same year. On the 22nd and 25th of that month, a young pianist called Nelson Freire came from Brazil to Pakistan and performed to a large audience in Rawalpindi. His concerts were called by critics of the time as the only musical happening worth noticing in Pakistan in many years. The young Nelson Freire would later be among the greatest pianists of the 20th century, according to the specialized critique, and is still active today. 45 years after that concert, Pakistanis were able to enjoy Freire’s music again last June, when the Embassy of Brazil in Islamabad showed a documentary about the musician’s life during the II Exhibition of Brazilian Documentaries in Pakistan.
In addition to that, 45 years after Nelson Freire, in March 2013, and also in the spirit of the Cultural Agreement, the Brazilian Embassy brought another musical event that made huge success in Islamabad, the concert of the percussion group Patubatê. The exciting performance of the group turned a packed PNCA theatre into a Brazilian carnival parade, and was also praised by the critique.
The numerous cultural activities of the Brazilian Embassy in Islamabad, such as cinema festivals, piano recitals, percussion concerts, photography and painting exhibitions, then, show that the historic relationship between Brazil and Pakistan is being increasingly intensified. The intense history of cultural exchange – of which Nelson Freire can be seen as a symbol – is evidence not only that the ties between Brazil and Pakistan are traditional and steady, but also that both countries give enormous importance to strengthening the ties that link their peoples together.
AS A BOX
List of Ambassadors of Brazil to Pakistan:
1. Ambassador Moacyr Ribeiro Briggs (1952-1954)
2. Ambassador Hugo Manhães Bethlem (1954-1955)
3. Ambassador J. Cochrane de Alencar (1956-1957)
4. Ambassador Ildefonso Falcão (1958)
5. Ambassador Murillo Tasso Fragoso (1959-1965)
6. Ambassador Adolpho Justo Bezerra de Menezes (1966-1968)
7. Ambassador Hygas Chagas Pereira (1970-1971)
8. Ambassador Quintino Symphoroso Deseta (1972-1977)
9. Ambassador Antonio Carlos Diniz de Andrada (1977-1989)
10. Ambassador Paulo Dyrceu Pinheiro (1990-1996)
11. Ambassador Abelardo Arantes Jr. (1996-2004)
12. Ambassador Fausto Martha Godoy (2004-2007)
13. Ambassador Carlos Eduardo Sette Câmara Fonseca Costa (2007-2009)
14. Ambassador Alfredo Cesar Martinho Leoni (2009- )