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Digital platform unveiled to observe Swiss National Day

Swiss Ambassador Benedict de Cerjat shares the website address for National Day activities.
Swiss Ambassador Benedict de Cerjat shares the website address for National Day activities.

In a video message, the newly-appointed Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan and Afghanistan Benedict de Cerjat shared the innovative way the embassy has decided to celebrate Swiss National Day 2020.

Addressing both Swiss compatriots and friends of Switzerland in Pakistan, Ambassador Cerjat said: “Every year we look forward to connecting with you at this time of year. This year with growing concerns around Covid-19, the Swiss embassy has made a difficult decision to cancel the traditional celebration of the Swiss National Day that falls on August 1. Nevertheless, we will mark this very special day with a series of activities by engaging digitally in a spirit of solidarity.”

A multilingual interactive website has been launched with do-it-yourself activities, traditional recipes, yodelling classes, table decoration and an introduction to flag throwing, amongst other interesting features. On Aug 1, the same website will be a virtual meeting place for people from around the world.

In a year when solidarity is increasingly important, digital connectivity will allow the embassy to celebrate the day with the global community.

Departing Swedish envoy hosts reception

Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson speaks at the farewell reception at her residence in Islamabad.
Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson speaks at the farewell reception at her residence in Islamabad.

Swedish Ambassador Ingrid Johansson hosted a small reception at the Swedish residence to bid farewell to friends and colleagues as she leaves Pakistan on permanent transfer for a position in Stockholm.

Ambassador Johansson said: “It is a very strange time to leave because typically I would like to see so many people before I go and for obvious reasons that is not possible. So, I invited people that I have had close interactions with during my four years here and have come to appreciate very much. I am glad you accepted my invitation because nowadays you have to do a risk analysis before you accept an invitation and you have decided this was worth it.”

She spoke briefly about her four years in Pakistan, saying: “It is a fascinating place; it’s always busy with things going on that you try to interpret in one way or the other. It is fun and as always it is the people who make the place. I very rarely miss a country, but I miss the people and the friends. You know the expression, ‘I leave a part of me in Pakistan’ and that is true in more ways than one. I do emotionally leave a part of me in Pakistan, but I also leave my appendix!”

Ambassador Johansson said that one aspect that kept her busy was gender issues, which came from being an ambassador and a woman. She said that when she arrived in Pakistan, there were nine women ambassadors, which has now shrunk to five.

She added that she would like to return to visit and explore Pakistan in a private capacity.

The guests enjoyed delicious Swedish snacks and took the opportunity to bid farewell to an ambassador who had been particularly interactive and engaged through her tenure.

— Text and photos by Syeda Shehrbano Kazim

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2020