A Road from Islamabad to Berlin

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In this age of globalization, foreign relations have become more important than ever before. A major goal of Pakistan’s foreign policy is to cultivate deep and friendly relations with members of international community and collaborate with them to cope with the issues of global dimension like environment, population, poverty reduction, energy, human migration, refugees, terrorism, drugs and the last but not least development and cooperation. Along with other major United Nations and European Union members, Pakistan equally enjoys cordial relations with Germany based on common interest and shared perceptions on almost all key international issues. Pakistan and Germany have a “deep-rooted” relationship, entrenched in good and amicable tradition. The two countries have never been opponents to each other and do not share a history of conflict. Germany has 5-6 per cent Muslim population as German citizens, a big change in last 20 years, of which the Pakistani diaspora is working as a bridge between Pakistan and Germany. Likewise, the number of Pakistani students to study in Germany, has increased exponentially.

Pakistan is a key player in Asia, having a dynamic population – the world’s sixth largest – and an economy with great potential. It is a major partner to Germany in the region and a central partner when it comes to addressing urgent international issues. Especially, the German government appreciates Pakistan’s balanced approach in the region as also reflected by Pakistan’s Parliamentary decision of non-intervention in Yemen, something which Berlin termed as a sound choice.

During his visit to Pakistan in 2015, German former foreign minister and a newly elected President (to take office on 19 March 2017), Mr Frank Walter Steinmeier acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices in War on Terror remarking, “Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and the images of massacre in the school in Peshawar back in December 2014 are still vivid in their minds. In this regard, Germany paid condolences and condemned those who carry such heinous attacks.” Dr. Cyrill Nunn, former German Ambassador, admired Pakistan Army’s efforts in War on Terror and resilience of the nation. Once he stated, “I had been fortunate enough to live in shining star of Asia, Pakistan. Without stable Pakistan, with it taking its full place in the region, this region will not take its strategic place.” Fight against terrorism is of utmost importance today and German public appreciates Pakistan’s efforts as Angela Markel said; “your security is our security”. In times of crisis, such as during 2010’s devastating floods in Pakistan, both the German government, as well as, the citizens came forward to help out the affected people.

As an exporting nation, Germany is keen to have develop friendly ties with Pakistan and would like to support Pakistan in its democratic development. It has regularly contributed to the development sector in Pakistan, as Germany is actively

involved in efforts to improve energy supply, especially in the sphere of renewable energy, capacity building of police force, health, governance, defence and development of rural regions in Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Germany holds big portfolio in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and FATA to promote sustainable development with the support of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and textile industry for meeting the quality standards in European markets, especially after GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan by European Union in 2013. With regard to other development cooperation, Germany is extending its cooperation in education sector, especially to the youth. This indicates that Germany will continue to support Pakistan for its development that has amounted to 2.5 billion euros since the 1960s. The growing relations of both countries are demonstrated, for instance, by a large number of high-level visits during the last few years, by German industry’s growing interest and by the rising number of students from Pakistan to Germany. In addition, the private sector of Germany is also playing a central role in the development of Pakistan. The number of German companies active in Pakistan has increased considerably during the last few years.

The development of regional infrastructure in particular – as Gwadar port – offers great potential to Germany. In this context, greater economic integration with neighbours China, Afghanistan and Iran, is the right channel to establish an economic bloc in South Asia that will also be equally attractive for European companies. German Ambassador to Pakistan, Ms. Ina Lapel indicated the interest of German companies in Pakistan’s energy sector, commenting that Pakistan is on the right track to economic improvement, offering a good chance to the German organisations for investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in Pakistan through China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC), and other such opportunities. Moreover, German companies have contacted Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir and expressed their willingness to invest in the CPEC remarking that “they would be more than willing to invest in the CPEC; however, the government of Pakistan needs to relax their policies in terms of investment, tariffs and taxation just like they’ve done for China.”

As far as the economic collaboration is concerned, both countries consider trade as the best form of cooperation. Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world that have a trade surplus with Germany. During 2012, Pakistan’s exports to Germany were US $1,260 million and its imports from the latter were US $1,106 million. Pakistan’s textile, leather goods and other items hold a competitive ground in German markets. Germany has been a partner to Pakistan in its efforts to economic development. Thus, Pakistan is in a good position to shape a good future, as Germany is willing to cooperate and invest in the country. Both countries express confidence on each other and their relation would further be diversely broaden up in the years to come.

By Muhammad Nawaz Khan

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