Bilawal tells world to break ‘stereotypes’ about Pakistan

Published December 10, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets his Singaporian  counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during his visit to the country on Friday. — APP
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meets his Singaporian counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during his visit to the country on Friday. — APP

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has called upon the world to move away from its stereotypical image and look towards Pakistan as a “promising emerging market” full of opportunities.

The foreign minister met Singapore President Halimah Yacob and his counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during his visit to the country on Friday.

In an interview with the Singapore-based English language daily The Strait Times before the visit, the foreign minister said there was a need for the world to have a fresh look at Pakistan away from its stereotypical image.

“As a young political leader, I strongly feel that the world needs to have a fresh look at Pakistan, away from its stereotypical image,” he said.

Meets Singapore FM and president; calls the country ‘an emerging market’, ‘full of potential’

“There are so many opportunities in Pakistan awaiting the world, for which the first step is to lift the travel advisories against the country. I strongly feel that the world needs to look at us more objectively, as a promising emerging market,” he told The Strait Times.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari remarked that online trading and e-commerce activities were on the rise in Pakistan and Asian countries that outsource IT and financial services and can benefit from the young population.

He said Pakistan was keen to forge closer cooperation with Southeast Asia’s digital economy and enhance ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), especially in the technical and vocational education sector.

“Some recent initiatives of Asean are of great interest to Pakistan which we believe are bound to unlock immense trade and investment opportunities for emerging economies including Pakistan,” he said in the interview.

Meetings with president, FM

During his meetings with President Yacob and Foreign Minister Balakrishnan, Mr Bhutto-Zardari emphasised the importance accorded by Pakistan to its relations with Singapore, which is a key partner in Asean, a press release issued by the Foreign Office said.

In the meeting with Ms Yacob, the two leaders welcomed the progress in bilateral relations and expressed the desire to consolidate cooperation in diverse fields.

During the breakfast meeting with his Singaporean counterpart, the foreign minister highlighted the importance of regular interaction and dialogue and high-level visits to promote people-to-people contacts, the FO added.

The two leaders agreed to “unlock the potential for economic cooperation” and collaborate in the fields of agriculture, digital economy and digital finance. They also exchanged views on the regional situation and agreed to stay in contact to promote cooperation.

Facebook monetisation

The foreign minister also visited the Asia-Pacific headquarters of Meta — the parent company of Facebook — where he launched the “Stars Programme” for content monetisation in Pakistan.

According to the FO, the initiative will lead to the capacity building of young entrepreneurs in the country. He also highlighted the potential of the IT sector in Pakistan and expressed the desire for enhanced cooperation between Meta and Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2022

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