Pakistan reaffirms solidarity, partnership with Africa on ‘Africa Day 2020’
...Repatriates 800 Africans over Covid-19
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has joined the world community in celebrating the “Africa Day 2020” marking the landmark establishment of the African Union (AU) then called Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was formed on 25 May 1963.
The African Day is observed across the globe to celebrate the African nations’ heroic struggle for emancipation from colonialism, as well as the Continent’s immense cultural and civilizational contributions, its tremendous economic potential, and its impressive strides in all fields of human endeavour.
A statement issued by the Pakistani High Commission made available to BusinessDay, noted that one of the most remarkable achievements has been the conclusion last year of the historic agreement on establishing African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), geographically the largest trading bloc.
“While commemorating AU’s 57th anniversary, we extend heartiest felicitations to the leadership and people of all fraternal African nations.
“The African Union stands tall today as a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of tens of millions of Africans for forging a united and even brighter future, premised on common values and shared prosperity, ” the statement said.
Pakistan stressed that this year’s Africa Day assumes salience in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is also impacting African countries. The pandemic, it noted, continues to challenge humanity to close ranks in the face of odds, and persevere to confront a common enemy — virtues aptly embodied by the African Union and its constituent Member States.
Pakistan has a long and illustrious history of friendly relations, mutual support and beneficial cooperation with African friends and partners. Historically, Pakistan has played its role in lending support to African freedom struggles from colonial rule; combating apartheid; extending humanitarian assistance, where needed; and supporting building capacity through training programmes and initiatives.
Pakistan is also proud of its contribution to peace and security in Africa since the 1960s. Under the UN auspices, Pakistani blue helmets, including women peacekeepers, continue to play their part in peace-keeping and peace-building efforts across the Continent.
The statement added that in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foreign policy vision, Pakistan has embarked upon a new, path-breaking “Engage Africa” Initiative toward the African Continent by strengthening political and diplomatic linkages, further deepening and broadening mutually-beneficial trade and economic ties, and expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Recall that Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi is spearheading the realisation of this initiative and as part of this, Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach and presence in Africa is being significantly enhanced.
“The resounding success of the first-ever Pakistan-African Trade Development Conference, convened in January 2020 in Nairobi, highlighted the untapped potential of bilateral trade and investment ties, and underscored the mutual desire to take them to a new level.
“As the world observes Africa Day 2020 while combating the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan reaffirms its full solidarity and support for the aspirations and valuable endeavours of African nations for peace, progress and prosperity.
“We also reiterate our abiding commitment to forging a stronger Pakistan-Africa partnership that helps advance our shared objectives and takes our fraternal ties and cooperation into a new era,” the statement said
To highlight the occasion, the recently established ’Center for Mid East & Africa Studies’ (CMEAS) at the Institute for Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a Webinar Event on ‘Africa Day’ in Islamabad.
Moderated by former Foreign Secretary Ambassdor Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, DG ISSI and Dr. Anna, Director CMEAS, the Event welcomed High Commissioner of Kenya as Dr. Julius Kibet Bitok, as Dean of African Missions as ‘Key Note Speaker’ whereas Ambassdor Ali Javed, Additional Foreign Secretary High, Chief of Africa Division shared his thoughts as ‘Chief Guest’ among other illustrious speakers.
Ambassador Javed underlined the recent and ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and African States towards facilitation of each others citizens stranded in their territories adding that nearly a dozen special flights have repatriated 2030 Pakistanis and 800 Africans national in very challenging circumstances which reflected a tangible strength of the relationship deeply embedded in their peoples.