My Indonesia sojourn By Ansar Mahmood Bhatti


Courtesy Indonesian embassy, I got a chance last month to explore various aspects of Indonesia and its vibrant society, along with a group of senior journalists.Though, it was my second visit to the largest Muslim country, yet this time I had a chance to study the Indonesian culture, life style; political system as well regional systems rather in detail.

It was a 10- day trip full of activities and information. The primary objective of the trip was to cover mega Trade Expo 2018 that took place in Jakarta, organized by the Trade Ministry of Indonesia.

From 2012, when I visited Jakarta for the first time, till now the City appeared to have transformed into a major business and trade hub not only in the region but in the world also.

Trade Expos are held every now and then in Indonesia that not only fetch foreign investors to come to Indonesia and be partners with the Indonesian businessmen but also boost country’s profile at the international level.

The Trade Expo 2018 went quite well. Over 135 countries participated in the expo that speaks volumes for the potential of Indonesia as a must-sought-after investment destination particularly for the foreign investors.

During our brief chat with the Trade Minister of Indonesia Enggartias Tolukita the fact revealed on us that how keen Indonesia was to expand and strengthen relations with Pakistan, especially in the field of trade and investment.

The minister minced no words in admitting that it was earnest desire of Jakarta to give new dimensions to its relations with Islamabad given the fact both countries shared many similarities.

The minister invited Pakistani businessmen particularly to invest in Indonesia as it offered variety of opportunities plus excellent business climate and level playing field.

Another area where we observed Indonesia is making huge strides by leaps and bounds was the tourism sector. Currently, Indonesia’s travel and tourism sector contributes $82.4bn – or 9.6% – of total GDP. Although this is high, it is still lower than regional competitors such as Thailand (20%) and Malaysia (16%).

Nevertheless, this only shows the opportunities Indonesia has against regional competitors. Indonesia’s tourism industry is ostensibly a success story and especially countries like Pakistan have many lessons to learn from their experience.

Pakistan undoubtedly is gifted with a plethora of tourists’ places but potential of such places is not utilized fully due to lack of proper care and interest. We found the Indonesia authorities all agog to help Pakistan develop the tourism sector therefore it is now incumbent upon Islamabad to cash in on this goodwill gesture.

Indonesia, as we know, is composed of thousands of islands, most of them gifted with natural as well mineral resources.

Safari is yet another area Indonesia can really boost of because biggest Safari parks are located in Indonesia thus contributing heavily to the national exchequer. Bandung and Bali should be the must-visit places for those who really love and want to be guests of wild creatures. It was indeed a unique and unforgettable experience to be among these creatures.

Summing up, one can hope that Pakistan, Indonesia relations will further be strengthened in the days to come. Indonesia has recently announced some concessions for Pakistani products due to which bilateral economic activity is likely to get momentum.

Likewise, cooperation in education and culture is yet another feather in the cap of bilateral relations. Here, one must admit efforts of Ambassador Iwan Amri and his team, which is working zealously to take bilateral relations to new heights. Let us wish them a success and help them achieve this goal.