Swiss National Day celebrated
The Embassy of Switzerland celebrated the 728th Swiss National Day at Serena Hotel, using the occasion to showcase the work of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) through short films and a photo exhibition as the SDC completes all its projects in Pakistan by the end of the year.
Ambassador Thomas Kolly said: “Please look at all the photographs. Pakistan is a big country, Switzerland is a small country and we are far away but there are some common points, like the landscapes. Unfortunately for us, our mountains are far less high – that is a fact we cannot change so we are very envious of Pakistan’s mountains. Another common point is the high degree of diversity.”
Manuel Bessler, head of humanitarian aid and deputy director general of the SDC, said: “We look back at over 50 years of Swiss development cooperation in your beautiful country. That is a reason to be proud and it is also perhaps a reason to be a sad as this relationship is about to change. All change is also an opportunity and Switzerland will always have a special relationship with your country. Change is room for new development and there will not be a phasing out but a phasing over and I look forward to returning often to Pakistan.”
Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, who was invited as chief guest, said: “I recall visiting Switzerland 17 years ago; as I was walking along Lake Geneva I marvelled at a society that is built on pluralism, multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism. It is truly a beacon for the world to emulate.
“Pakistan-Switzerland relations spread over seven decades and Switzerland is one of the largest foreign investors in Pakistan and the SDC has truly helped Pakistan in its efforts to improve socio-economic indicators. I would request SDC to look to prolonged, further engagement in Pakistan.”
The evening ended with a lavish spread including Swiss raclette, followed by a performance by a group of young musicians from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Farewell lunch for four envoys
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Turkmen Ambassador Atajan Movlamov, hosted a lunch to bid farewell to four outgoing envoys to Pakistan: ambassadors Ardi Stoiosbraken of the Nethelands, Frederic Verheyden of Belgium, Ivan Ivanissevich of Argentina, and Jean-Francois Cautin of the European Union. The new ambassador from Portugal, Paulo Neves Pocinho, was also introduced to his fellow envoys.
In his speech Ambassador Movlamov thanked his colleagues for their excellent work and friendship, and the outgoing ambassadors thanked the dean for his support. Three of the outgoing ambassadors will continue their careers, while the Argentine ambassador will retire. The Belgian ambassador has also been accredited to Afghanistan, and in his speech he said that at periods it had been a taxing work situation.
Ms Stoiosbraken said that she looks forward to staying at home with her family for a while, after having been in a non-family duty station for two years. She noted that there will be very few women envoys in Pakistan in the near future, four in all, mentioning that her successor, too, is a man.
Dannebrog — the flag that fell from the sky
Ambassador Rolf Holmboe held a simple afternoon coffee session about a big event at his residence in Islamabad to commemorate the 800-year history of the Danish flag called theDannebrog.
According to legend, the ‘flag of peace’ fell down from the sky at a battle in what is now Tallinn, in the Baltic state of Estonia, which at the time in 1219, was under Danish rule under King Valdemar Sejr.
“On 15 June there was a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tallinn and a large outdoor event at Freedom Square in the presence of Queen Margaret II of Denmark, who visited Tallinn to celebrate the 800th anniversary ofDannebrogand the 100th anniversary of Estonia.
“Since 1912, the Danes have celebrated Valdemar Day, and since 1920, it is also a memorial day for the reunification of South Jutland, or North Schleswig, which had been German,” said Ambassador Holmboe. He drew attention to extensive business and cultural cooperation with Pakistan, including an annual visit to Denmark and the other Nordic countries by journalists from Pakistani print and electronic media.
Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2019