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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » March 1, 2013
Pakistan in Poland
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Admiring Polish Entrepreneurial Instincts
March 1, 2013   
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Pakistan’s ambassador to Poland, HE Murad Ali, talks to Ewa Hancock.

You have been in Poland for two and half years. What are your impressions of the country?
Poland has had regional and global historic significance. The country has witnessed some profound changes. The tumultuous waves which became a harbinger of change across Eastern and Central Europe started here. Poland’s democratic experience is now a model that many newly emerging democracies are desiring to emulate. I was therefore excited to take up my posting in the historic city of Warsaw.

My enthusiasm was not misplaced. I am a witness to the Polish entrepreneurial instinct. Life in all areas is thriving, be it the economy, trade, culture or education. The impressive performance of the Polish economy in 2008-2009, when all other parts of Europe were in economic distress, was largely due to the resilience and hard work of the Polish people.

While the citizenry is playing its role in building the nation, the Polish diaspora is also very proactive. They are not only promoting Poland’s image abroad, but are also contributing to the prosperity of the country by bringing in new ideas from abroad, something in which I see a similarity with our own diaspora.

Rich culture, a love for music and a deep-rooted taste for arts makes Poland a unique place in the world. I witnessed the Polish love for music during our Sufi Music concert that we organized in January last year with the popular Sufi musicians Amjad Sabri and Brothers. Polish music fans thronged the venue and the crowd showered the music maestros with their praise for Sufi music.

How would you summarize Pakistani-Polish relations and how do you see them developing in the future?
Pakistan and Poland enjoy close cooperative relations. Our bilateral relations date back to World War II, when over 30,000 Polish refugees migrated to our port city of Karachi. Most of them integrated with Pakistani society. The bond of friendship further strengthened when Air Commodore Władysław Turowicz and 30 other Polish air force officers came to Pakistan and laid the foundations for Pakistan’s air force. Their help in the formative phase of establishing the Pakistani air force will be eternally remembered in Pakistan. Air Commodore Turowicz was given Pakistani nationality and was granted Pakistan’s highest civil award. He passed away in 1980 and is buried in Pakistan. A memorial was erected in the Air Force Museum in Karachi to acknowledge the services of Polish airmen in laying the foundations for Pakistan’s air force.

In fact, an exhibition is now under way at the Warsaw Museum of Sports and Tourism acknowledging these contributions. In this photographic exhibition we have also paid homage to some of Poland’s bravest mountain climbers who performed wonders while climbing some of the most difficult peaks in the world, situated in Pakistan, namely K-2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum etc.

Poland and Pakistan are both prospering democracies and celebrated the golden jubilee of establishing diplomatic relations last year. The two countries enjoy a good understanding on international issues and cooperate with each other in the UN.

The two countries have exchanged high-level visits. Former President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Poland in April 2007 was the first head-of-state-level visit from Pakistan, which invigorated bilateral relations. Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit to Warsaw in September 2010 was reciprocated by Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski’s visit to Pakistan in August 2011. The return visit of Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz to Pakistan in November 2012 with a parliamentary delegation helped forge even closer relations and a better understanding on different regional and international issues.

Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Poland has steadily grown since 2002. In 2012 our bilateral trade stood at $235 million, which is 480 percent more than in 2002, largely due to recessionary trends on European markets. Poland’s exports to Pakistan grew faster than imports.

Poland supported Pakistan’s request for Autonomous Trade Preferences, which were announced by the European Commission in November 2012 and which are designed to help Pakistan’s economy to stabilize. As you are aware, Pakistan has been at the forefront of the global struggle against extremism and terrorism and we have rendered enormous sacrifices in terms of men and material. More than 7,000 Pakistani security personnel and 15,000 civilians have lost their lives, which is more than sacrificed by the U.S. and NATO. Due to increasing militant attacks, the Pakistani economy has suffered badly, and the financial losses are estimated at around $70 billion. The European Union, in order to ameliorate the severe economic stress, has approved trade concessions for Pakistan. We greatly appreciate Poland’s support in the EU’s decision to grant temporary concessions.

What are the most important and attractive areas of business between Poland and Pakistan?
Located in the heart of Asia, Pakistan is the gateway to the energy-rich Central Asian states, the financially liquid Gulf states and the economically advanced Far Eastern tigers. This strategic advantage alone makes Pakistan a marketplace teeming with unlimited opportunities. Pakistan possesses a large pool of trained and experienced engineers, bankers, lawyers and other professionals with substantial international experience. Pakistan is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 8.4 percent in 2005. Today Pakistan has over 180 million consumers with an ever growing appetite for energy and infrastructure.

The bright prospects of Pakistan’s lucrative oil and gas sector have attracted the attention of Polish companies like PGNiG, Geofizyka Kraków and Oil & Gas Exploration Company Kraków. These Polish companies are currently working on joint-venture projects in Pakistan. PGNiG has found gas in Pakistan and they are in the process of expanding their operations in Pakistan. The top managers of Geofizyka Kraków were in Pakistan recently where they have agreed to expand their operations. Their increasing interest is very encouraging.

What goal would you like to accomplish in your remaining time in Poland?
As flourishing democracies, we need our parliamentary friendship groups to play an even greater part in increasing the understanding and cooperation between the two peoples. Given the potential, a substantial increase in bilateral trade should not be a particularly ambitious goal. Closer cultural and educational cooperation will remain my focus during my remaining period in Poland.
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