ISLAMABAD, JUL 04 (DNA) Perry John Calderwood High Commissioner of Canada has said Canada and Pakistan have a broad relationship that spans many areas adding that there was a great potential for further strengthening of our ties in the years ahead. Our two countries maintain ongoing dialogue on many multilateral issues such as climate change and our shared commitment to United Nations Peacekeeping. Our trade relationship is growing. In 2016, two-way trade exceeded $1.4 billion Canadian dollars (about 110 billion PKR), the highest level ever.
The Canadian High Commissioner expressed these words while giving an excluaive interview to DNA.
He further said that there remains significant untapped potential to strengthen trade and investment relations.
Canadian companies have great expertise and experience in sectors such as energy, agri-food industry, information and communications technology (ICT), and mining – all of which are sectors in which Pakistan is likely to see robust growth in the years ahead.
He said as for people-to-people relations, he was pleased that there was a large and growing community of Canadians of Pakistani heritage whose members are playing a key role in further building relations between our two countries.
Also, a growing number of Pakistani students are choosing Canada as a destination for their university studies. Their presence is enriching our universities and communities, and they represent another strong pillar in the bilateral relationship, he added.
To a question about women empowerment the Canadian high Commissioner said “one of the things that has impressed me in my travels around Pakistan and my meetings with a wide range of people is the strong democratic vocation of Pakistanis”.
Pakistan has made great strides in building its democracy and I am confident that it will continue to make progress in the years ahead in consolidating its democratic culture, e added.
Democracy, of course, means free and fair elections and robust political debate of issues. But it also means respect for the rule of law and for the human rights of all, transparency in government, and accountability of political leaders to the people.
A strong and healthy democracy and society is one which is inclusive. An important dimension of inclusiveness is respect for gender equality and the full participation of women, as well as men, in political decision-making.
Needless to say, government policies affect women as much as men and thus it is important that women be fully involved in setting policies and making laws.
In Canada, he said, for the first time in our history, half of the government ministers at the federal level are women. This marks an important milestone in my country’s progress toward full inclusiveness in our political life.
“It is obviously for the people of Pakistan to decide how best to pursue the goal of inclusiveness, including of women, in its political institutions and processes.
Some countries, including Pakistan, have adopted quotas to increase the representation of women in parliament while others, such as Canada, have made progress by other means”.
He added that he had been impressed by many Pakistani women whom I have met in senior positions, whether as parliamentarians, civil servants, leaders of civil society or of private sector companies.
There is certainly no shortage of talented and committed women in Pakistan who are qualified to assume positions of political leadership, Mr. Calderwood said.
To yet another question about human rights the Canadian high commissioner said, The promotion of human rights around the world is an integral part of Canada’s foreign and development policy.
“I have had the privilege of meeting many dedicated Pakistani women and men who are committed to promoting human rights values in Pakistan. They include human rights defenders, political leaders and elected representatives, government officials, members of the media, and many others”.
He said, like Canadians, most Pakistanis want to live in an inclusive society in which the human rights and the dignity of every person are respected.
The High Commission maintains regular dialogue with the Pakistani government on how we can work together to advance shared human rights values.
And we are also pleased to collaborate with Pakistani human rights NGOs and other partners that are active in promoting a human rights culture. =DNA