ISLAMABAD, FEB 3 (DNA) – Pakistan must take concrete measures to materialize the recently announced ‘Look Africa’ policy in real terms, said Ambassador (retd) Najam-us-Saqib, former Pakistan’s envoy to South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Bangladesh and Cuba, at a webinar titled ‘Pakistan’s relations with Southern African countries’ held at Institute of Policy Studies.
The session was chaired by Chairman IPS Khalid Rahman and moderated by Sr. IPS Associate Ambassador (retd) Tajammul Altaf and attended by many foreign policy analysts and researchers.
Commenting on Pakistan’s bilateral relations with South Africa, which is the biggest country in the southern region and member of G-20 and BRICS, the former ambassador said that Pakistan enjoys strong ties with it, especially defense cooperation as the COASs from both countries visit each other regularly.
However, he rued that bilateral trade volume between both countries stands at meager $600 million, and no Pakistani head of the state has paid a visit there in the last 15 years, except former President Mamnoon Hussain, who went there to attend the last rites of late Nelson Mandela.
Najam-us-Saqib believed that despite a large number of Pakistani expatriates living in South Africa, the stretch of cultural and political relations with South Africa and other southern countries including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Mozambique is not significant.
People in South Africa, he informed, still remember the leading role played by Pakistan against the apartheid. However, the benefits of such cordial relationships are yet to be reaped. He further stressed the need for initiating joint ventures in the mining sector with South Africa.
The ambassador emphasized resuming direct flights from South Africa to Pakistan and opening of banking channels as no Pakistani bank operates in South Africa. He also suggested promoting Pakistani films and dramas and organizing cultural events in South Africa to bolster cultural ties.
Concluding the session, IPS Chairman Khalid Rahman opined that Pakistan needs to acknowledge the importance of African countries, especially the southern region, and identify areas of cooperation.=DNA