KARACHI: Italy and Pakistan’s close ties were highlighted on Saturday evening at an event to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Italy.
On the ground floor, security was on high alert as bouncers dressed in black suits waited at the entrance to usher guests to Ocean Mall’s 19th floor.
The ballroom was abuzz with the cream of Karachi socialising and talking business while nibbling on mushroom skewers, salmon and prawn starters.
Italian Consul Anna Ruffino, the first Italian woman to hold the title in the city, greeted guests with a warm smile and welcomed them to the event in a glamorous emerald green dress.
The event kicked off with Italian songstress Silvia Boreale singing the national anthem of Italy and Pakistan accompanied by students of the Deaf Reach School.
After welcoming the chief guest, Sindh Culture Minister Sardar Ali Shah, Ms Ruffino, showed a brief video and discussed how trade had helped cement the relationship between both countries.
Talking to Dawn, she said that her experience in the city had been excellent so far.
“Mujhe Karachi buhat pasand hai, I am very happy here. Pakistani people are very warm and welcoming. In terms of work, it is very interesting and quite easy as the relations between both countries are very good. They are close,” she said.
“Trade and economical relations between Italy and Pakistan are increasing…last year they went up by more than 12 per cent,” she added.
According to Aarij Iqbal of the Italian Development Committee, a trade facilitation organisation said that they try and bring Italian counterparts to Pakistan and take Pakistani counterparts to Italy to promote trade.
“We have a sizeable trade with Italy…which is our third largest partner in Europe — UK, Germany then Italy,” he said, adding that Pakistan and Italy traded a lot in machinery, equipment and technology.
He explained that Pakistan primarily exported was exporting textile and rice.
“We import chemicals, we have two pharmaceutical companies which are operating in Pakistan, ENI — one of the largest companies in oil and gas is very active here…these are all areas where there is considerable amount of engagement between the two countries,” he said.
“In the last two years we have seen a growing trend — the trade volume has increased by more than 50pc, going forward we feel that it will continue to grow. There are a lot of untapped opportunities in both countries and IDC’s main function has been to identify those areas where opportunities can be created,” he added.
The real highlight of the night, however, was the delicious Italian food which transported many guests, including a young gentleman to a small café in Rome — arrabiata pasta, lasagna, steamed fish and pasta pesto.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2018