Spanish National Day celebrated

Ambassador Carlos Morales with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, EU ambassador Jean François Cautain and Tariq Khan of PM Office on the occasion of Spain’s National Day in Islamabad.
Ambassador Carlos Morales with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, EU ambassador Jean François Cautain and Tariq Khan of PM Office on the occasion of Spain’s National Day in Islamabad.

Ambassador Carlos Morales and Spanish embassy staff welcomed guests last Friday to a large reception to celebrate Spanish National Day.

In his speech, Ambassador Morales said he had enjoyed his three-year posting to Pakistan.

“Although my time in Pakistan is coming to an end, I will always remember the friendly people of the land,” he said, adding that it was very positive that security has improved much over recent years.

He said he was glad that hundreds of Spanish tourists had visited the northern areas last summer, and Spain was glad to host an increasing number of doctoral students from Pakistan.

During Ambassador Morales’ term in Pakistan, trade increased by 25pc and the trade volume is now $1.3 billion. The country is a very important market for Spain, with potential for further growth.

The chief guest, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, also underlined the important trade cooperation, and he hoped for further investment in infrastructure and energy, and growth in exchange in the fields of education and tourism.

Swedish envoy hosts reception

Annika Ben David, ambassador for human rights, democracy and the rule of law from Sweden, addresses guests at the reception in Islamabad.
Annika Ben David, ambassador for human rights, democracy and the rule of law from Sweden, addresses guests at the reception in Islamabad.

Ambassador of Sweden Ingrid Johansson hosted a reception for Annika Ben David, ambassador for human Rights, democracy and the rule of law, and Louise Bengtsson, desk officer at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department for Asia and the Pacific Region.

Ambassador Johansson welcomed guests from civil society, the business community and diplomatic and foreign missions, saying: “Thank you for accepting our invitation to join us tonight to help us welcome our guests from Stockholm, both first-timers in Pakistan. We continue our dialogue here with interlocutors in the new government and we continue to Lahore to the Asma Jehangir Conference where Annika is the keynote speaker.”

Ambassador David said she has travelled to Asia a number of times but this was her first visit to Pakistan.

“I was looking for a good opportunity to come and follow up on the excellent engagement of Sweden in Pakistan and this weekend’s conference in memory your pioneer and stateswoman was such a fitting occasion so I am honoured to address that conference,” she added.

“This is great. Being a feminist, I think the Swedish state is taking the lead in ensuring gender equality. It is one of the top five countries globally in terms of gender equality. We’ve thought of the state as being a patriarchal institution perpetuating inequalities but Sweden has a feminist government so I think Sweden policies are incredible,” Farzana Bari said.

Usama Khilji, who works on digital rights and freedom of expression, said: “This has been an interesting event; for me the most fascinating thing is the idea of a feminist government in Sweden because you see very little representation of women in government here and when you do have women in government they are sidelined.”

Swiss ambassador hosts book launch

Swiss Ambassador Thomas Kolly and NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Omar Mehmood Hayat hold a copy of A Journey through Resilient Pakistan at the book launch in Islamabad.
Swiss Ambassador Thomas Kolly and NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Omar Mehmood Hayat hold a copy of A Journey through Resilient Pakistan at the book launch in Islamabad.

Ambassador of Switzerland Thomas Kolly hosted a book launch for A Journey through Resilient Pakistan at his residence.

Produced in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and UNFPA, the coffee table book features stories and photographs of extraordinary Pakistanis who showed leadership in crisis situations and resilience in the face of disasters.

Ambassador Kolly said: “The author collected stories from all over Pakistan to show how strong and resilient Pakistani people are. Institutions are very important but institutions have a life because of the people working within the institutions and for the institutions. In these amazing stories you’ll see a young boy of sixteen years and a woman of 69; it is a combination of all ages, across all regions of the country.”

NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Omar Mehmood Hayat said: “In 2009 I was the chief of staff for Gen Nadeem. We were dealing with 3.5 million people who had come out of Swat and with him I started learning what humanitarian work meant.

“During that time, a foreign colleague used to say to me that if there is one quality of the people of Pakistan that you could bottle up and export, you would be the richest country in the world and that quality is the resilience of the people.”

He said last year the NDMA had asked that Oct 8, previously marked as National Disaster Awareness Day, be renamed National Resilience Day. Along with that, he said, they prepared a story of resilience, which was the concept behind the book.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2018