Somalian envoy welcomes Pak ‘Look Africa’ policy

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Pakistan has a lot of goodwill in the region as the country always championed the cause of the African countries at UN and remained in the forefront of peacekeeping missions in Africa

EXCLUSIVE

Ansar M Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, (DNA) – Khadija Mohamed Al-Makhzoumi, Ambassador of Somalia has said a large number of Somali students are studying in Pakistan in various educational fields. ‘We are thankful to the people and government of Pakistan for their continuing assistance to the Somali students and for your delight some students after graduating from Pakistan have established an Urdu speaking colony in Mogadishu, Somalia. We are also now thinking to cooperate in Higher Education and research field’.

She expressed these views while giving an exclusive interview with Daily Islamabad POST.

To a question about Pakistan’s Look Africa policy the ambassador said, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan has done well by organizing a conference of the country’s envoys in the African Continent with a view to deliberating on issues relating to enhanced cooperation with them.

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The move is timely in the sense other countries of the world especially the United States and China are focusing more on Africa as its economies are considered as ‘lions on the move’. African continent is a rising market of 1.26 billion people; it is rich in mineral resources and is an exporter of energy resources. Pakistan has a lot of goodwill in the region as the country always championed the cause of the African countries at UN and remained in the forefront of peacekeeping missions in Africa.

In this backdrop, it is unfortunate that Pak-Africa trade is negligible and the country has diplomatic presence in a few countries alone – thirteen missions to cover 54 countries (the rest are managed through concurrent accreditation).

Apart from Africa being a huge potential market for Pakistani goods, the country’s geo-strategic location and connectivity offers opportunity for African goods to reach Central Asia and South Asia.

‘As Somali Ambassador to Pakistan, I consider my role is to facilitate the contacts between the players in the economic field, to get them to know each other better and also to interconnect in a better way’.

She further said, in 1969, Pakistan and Somalia were among the founding members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Somalia’s relations with Pakistan remained strong in the following years and through the ensuing civil war period, when the Pakistani military contributed to a UN peacekeeping operation in southern Somalia. In 2010, Pakistan tabled a proposal for United Nations Security Council seats for OIC and Arab League states, the latter of which Somalia is also a member.

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She said, Pakistan and Somalia are active commercial partners, trading a variety of commodities. In 2008-2009, Somalia exported $34,822.059 million USD worth of goods to Pakistan, with Pakistan in return exporting $17,781.883 million USD worth of goods to Somalia.

Pakistan’s exports to Somalia during the same year included $53.254 million in rice, $0.627 million in medicament mixtures, $10.400 million in non-cocoa sugar confectionery, and $0.20 million in shawls, scarves, mufflers, mantillas and similar garments, she added.