Ambassador of Germany Alfred Grannas says To date, we have welcomed more than 30,000 Afghans on humanitarian grounds
Ansar M Bhatti
ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Germany Alfred Grannas gave an exclusive interview to Daily Islamabad POST, Centreline and DNA News Agency. The ambassador talked in length about bilateral as well multi-lateral relations. Here is the text of the interview.
1. Germany is very keen to see democratic and sustainable development in Pakistan. Can you share with our readers some of the salient features of this cooperation with reference to latest political and economic developments in Pakistan?
Germany is committed to promoting good governance, rule of law, and stability in Pakistan. To achieve this, we work closely with our implementing partners, particularly GIZ, on a range of projects related to good governance, climate change awareness, education, and health. However, we are concerned about the recent economic situation in Pakistan, which has been particularly challenging for German companies operating in the country. We are working with the Pakistani government to encourage structural reforms that will encourage investment and economic cooperation between our two countries.
2. Would you like to highlight efforts that your embassy has made to further strengthen trade and economic links between Germany and Pakistan?
We are pleased to note that the Pakistani market has attracted significant attention from a range of German companies and thus from concerned government departments in Germany. This growing interest in bilateral trade has led to the decision to extend the German network of chambers of commerce and industry abroad (AHK) to Pakistan. This represents a major milestone for our economic relations and is poised to be a game changer for future economic interaction between our two countries.
While we currently have a “Pakistan Desk” at our chamber of commerce and industry in Dubai, our sincere aim is to establish a proper representation on Pakistani soil as soon as possible. This development has also fueled an increased interest in delegations travelling to Pakistan to explore the market.
However, we must also acknowledge that the current economic conditions and import restrictions in place in Pakistan present significant challenges for businesses. Therefore, we advise the interested German businesses to keep monitoring the situation and come to Pakistan as soon as we see improvements with regards to structural reforms and removal of restrictions that will encourage investment and economic cooperation.
3. Security issues by and large are the main hurdles in the way of foreign investments in Pakistan. Do you share this perception and how optimistic you are that things will get better, in terms of security, in the coming days?
The increase in attacks since the Taliban takeover in Kabul has understandably had a significant impact on the assessment of business opportunities in Pakistan. While we have not seen German companies targeted by militants, we recognize the concerns of German businesses regarding the security situation in the country.
It is important to note that German companies adhere to high standards when it comes to security, and an improved security situation may not be enough to alleviate all concerns in German company headquarters. We share the view that an absence of attacks is necessary to fully address these concerns, particularly as such attacks primarily harm the Pakistani society and have the potential to destabilize the country.
Moreover, the current import restrictions are having a negative effect on German companies’ interest in investing in and trading with Pakistan. We hope that this situation will improve soon, as further damage to the businesses of German companies already working in Pakistan can be avoided.
As we know, quite a few German NGOs are working in Pakistan. How would you comment on the role of these NGOs in bringing people of both countries closer besides their contribution to the socio-economic development and especially the women empowerment?
German NGOs, such as Kindernothilfe, Welthungerhilfe and the German Red Cross, are actively involved in various development projects and programs to support the socio-economic development in Pakistan.These German NGOs have contributed a lot during the recent flood in Pakistan in terms of emergency response, rehabilitation, and economic development and especially women empowerment.
Women empowerment is a challenging and very important topic in Pakistan. In terms of better opportunities, German NGOs aim to create better conditions for women and reduce gender violence across different sectors. Indeed, it won’t be easy and it is not a onetime activity but more of collective participation and mutual understanding. Thus, German NGOs in collaboration with local and national NGOs are looking forward to more women participation in economic, political, and social participation to a more equitable and more prosperous society in Pakistan.
Culture and education is yet another field where both countries have been working hand in hand. Can you tell us some details of cooperation in these particular fields with special reference to recently held Film Festival?
Cultural diplomacy is very important for people-to-people contact. Germany has an academic exchange service, DAAD, which works in Pakistan and sends many students to Germany for higher studies. We have a network of schools called PASCH, which teach German language as a subject. Our cultural centers in Karachi and Lahore offer German language courses on different levels. Recently, we supported the Women’s Film Festival to encourage and facilitate young girls and women to express themselves and celebrate the success stories, struggles, and achievements of inspiring women from all walks of life.
This year, we supported the Lahore Literary Festival and brought two acclaimed writers from Germany to Pakistan, who read from their latest works.
We are also partners of the Lahore Digital Arts Festival through the EUNIC Cluster Fund to celebrate the emerging digital culture of Pakistan by bringing together artists and audiences to explore the intersection of art and technology.
After Talban govt take over in Afghanistan influx of Afghans to various countries including Germany has been huge. Can you share data that how many Afghans, Germany has entertained so far?
Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Germany has seen a huge influx of Afghan refugees seeking safety and shelter. To date, we have welcomed more than 30,000 Afghans on humanitarian grounds. Our priority is to ensure that they are provided with the necessary support and assistance to rebuild their lives in a safe environment.
Your impressions about Pakistan?
As the German ambassador to Pakistan, I have had the privilege of visiting some truly amazing places in this country. From the vibrant city of Lahore to the bustling metropolis of Karachi, and the scenic beauty of Quetta and Peshawar, I have been struck by the rich and diverse local cultures and traditions. Above all, what stands out for me here is the warmth and hospitality of the Pakistani people. It is truly humbling to receive so much love and support from everyone I meet.