WARSAW: Pakistan’s Ambassador in Warsaw emphasised the importance his country attached to its relations with Poland that was a key player in the Central and Eastern Europe.
In as exclusive interview with Geo News in Warsaw, Mr Shafqat Ali Khan referred to the dramatic progress Poland had made during the last decade in political and economic fields and expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of growth in Pakistan-Poland bilateral relations.
Ambassador Shafqat Ali Khan who got his higher education from King College, London, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and Uppsala University, Sweden, joined the Foreign Service of Pakistan in early 1990s.
During the interview, the ambassador was accompanied by counselor of the diplomatic mission Mr Shifaat Ahmad Kaleem.
The ambassador Shafqat underlined the importance of close academic links between Pakistan and East European Countries specially Poland. He said that though academic exchanges needed long time to mature but these gave durable results. The newly appointed ambassador of Pakistan has been stationed in Warsaw for the last three months.
Emphasising the importance of public diplomacy, he said, it would be of one of his priorities to build further cooperation between educational institutions of Pakistan and Poland. Exchange of scholars and researchers play a vital role in strengthening relations among nations.
Commenting on the trade relations between Pakistan and Poland, he stated that Pakistan’s exports to Poland stood at around 123 million Euros and imports from Poland were about 113 million Euros per annum and there was wide scope for enhancement of the trade volume between the two friendly countries.
He added that Polish consumer’s purchasing power was growing rapidly and Polish economic growth rate was at 3%. The Polish annual trade was 400.5 billion USD.
The ambassador said, Polish oil and gas exploration companies had business and investment in Pakistan. The state owned PGNiG was planning on expanding its production and exploration initiatives in Pakistan. PGNiG had been operating in Pakistan for twenty years now and wanted to increase its investment footprint in the country.
Talking about the history of relations between Pakistan and Poland, Ambassador Shafqat Ali Khan said, the relations dated back to the 1940s when Karachi housed 3000 Polish refugees during the second world war. After the Independence of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam sanctioned selection of thirty Polish Pilots for a three years contract to help establish Pakistan Air Force. These Polish pilots worked for Pakistan with remarkable zeal and commitment. One of these Pilots Wadysaw Józef Marian Turowicz made Pakistan his home and went on to become Air Commodore. He was also a founder of SUPARCO. He died in 1980 and is buried in Karachi.
Poland extended valuable assistance to Pakistan after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Poland sent military engineers, geological scientists, and rescue dogs. Poland helped Pakistan to rebuild the earthquake-affected cities.
On Pakistan’s economy and investment opportunities in the country, the Ambassador said, despite of challenges Pakistan had important progress in the fields of Political consolidation, economic growth and counter-terrorism.
About OPEC, he said, the China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) was of immense significance not only for Pakistan but the larger region as well.