Ansar M Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Somalia to Pakistan Khadija Mohamed Almakhzoumi has said relations between the two countries are growing with each passing day. She said educational links between the two countries have been strengthened further.

She expressed these views while giving an exclusive interview to Islamabad POST.

Ambassador Khadija, who is in Pakistan for the last four years, has contributed significantly towards cementing bilateral relations.

She also talked about the COVID situation in her country adding the situation had deteriorated in the past few months mainly because of influx of tourists. She said there was no COVID in Somalia in the beginning but suddenly cases have risen.

She said her government was taking all possible steps to overcome the situation. To a question about Pakistan’s Look Africa policy the ambassador said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan has done well by organizing a conference of the country’s envoys in the African Continent with a view to deliberating on issues relating to enhanced cooperation with them.

The move is timely in the sense other countries of the world especially the United States and China are focusing more on Africa as its economies are considered as ‘lions on the move’. African continent is a rising market of 1.26 billion people; it is rich in mineral resources and is an exporter of energy resources. Pakistan has a lot of goodwill in the region as the country always championed the cause of the African countries at the UN and remained in the forefront of peacekeeping missions in Africa.

In this backdrop, it is unfortunate that Pak-Africa trade is negligible and the country has diplomatic presence in a few countries alone – thirteen missions to cover 54 countries (the rest are managed through concurrent accreditation).

Apart from Africa being a huge potential market for Pakistani goods, the country’s geo-strategic location and connectivity offers opportunity for African goods to reach Central Asia and South Asia.

‘As Somali Ambassador to Pakistan, I consider my role is to facilitate the contacts between the players in the economic field, to get them to know each other better and also to interconnect in a better way’.

She further said, in 1969, Pakistan and Somalia were among the founding members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Somalia’s relations with Pakistan remained strong in the following years and through the ensuing civil war period, when the Pakistani military contributed to a UN peacekeeping operation in southern Somalia.

She stressed to further intensify trade and economic relations between the two countries adding she had already interacted with various chambers of commerce and industry in Pakistan with a view to exploring more and more avenues of cooperation.