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Thursday February 29, 2024

Baqar thanks Netherlands for being Pakistan’s all-weather friend

CM says in 2022 World Cup, Dutch beat mighty South Africans to ensure that Pakistani team was able to reach semi-final against all odds

By Our Correspondent
January 19, 2024
Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (Rtd) addresses a gathering at NICVD’s Stroke Intervention Programme through a video link after the inauguration on January 13, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House
Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (Rtd) addresses a gathering at NICVD’s Stroke Intervention Programme through a video link after the inauguration on January 13, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House

The Dutch government and people have been all-weather friends to Pakistan, said Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar while speaking at a reception hosted by Ambassador of the Netherlands Henny de Vries at the Mohatta Palace to celebrate 75 years of relationship between Pakistan and the Netherlands.

On a lighter note, the CM remarked that in the 2022 Cricket World Cup in Australia, the Dutch team beat South Africans to send Pakistan to the semi-final and in 1994, Pakistan won the Hockey World Cup, beating a strong Dutch side on penalties in Australia.

Justice (retd) Baqar remarked that in the 2022 World Cup, the Dutch beat the mighty South Africans to ensure that the Pakistani team was able to reach the semi-final against all odds. “Overnight Tom Cooper and Brandon Glover became household names in Pakistan - it’s a favour we will not forget,” he said.

He added that 2024 would mark 30 years since Pakistan last won the Hockey World Cup, beating a strong Dutch side on penalties in Australia. “It was a proud moment for the nation which we hope we can relive again,” he said and requested Dutch friends to maintain constant interaction with the Pakistan diaspora in the fields of education, sports, arts and music.

The caretaker CM said the Netherlands had been a long-standing partner of sustainable trade and investment in Pakistan, particularly in the dairy and poultry sectors. He added that the ports and shipping sector had greatly benefitted from Dutch technology – with the Netherlands providing some of the best-in-class chemical storage terminals, dredging equipment and tugging solutions for large vessels.

He recalled that last year, 40 Dutch companies visited Pakistan for the TEXPO 2023 and it was the largest trade delegation from the Netherlands that visited the country in recent years. He expressed the hope that the number would increase further this year.

“The Netherlands has long been a producer and trading hub for floriculture, and this is where Pakistan can further learn to produce value-added produce that can be exported to the world,” he said.

Justice (retd) Baqar said the Netherlands had been becoming a popular destination for Pakistani students due to the Netherlands's impressive education system and ease of communication as the Dutch people were proficient in English. He recalled that a Dutch nun successfully set up a school for orphaned and handicapped children in Pakistan back in 1960s known as Dar ul Sakoon. He said the Dutch opened their first embassy in Karachi in 1955.

Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is such that the Royal Dutch Airline used to operate a hotel close to the Karachi airport called the Midway House, the interim CM recalled and said the significance of this name was that Karachi used to fall right in between Amsterdam and Jakarta. “Having been given the status of GSP plus, Pakistan has been able to increase its exports to the Netherlands, surpassing the $1 billion mark, which means Pakistan is a net exporter to the Netherlands which means that our products have a brand value and we hope to further strengthen the `Made in Pakistan’ brand in the Netherlands through people-to-people contact and creating policies that promote trade and cultural ties,” he said.

Justice (retd) Baqar also thanked The Netherlands for sending a team of water experts to Pakistan in 2022 to advise on better water management practices.

With the 5th largest population in the world and a growing middle class, Pakistan was ripe for investment in consumer goods, the caretaker CM said and added that Pakistan had been lowering its reliance on fossil fuels and could benefit from Dutch technology in onshore and offshore wind energy.

He remarked that Pakistan currently generated only five per cent of its energy from wind and solar sources. “If this share increases to 35 per cent, it will save the national exchequer Rs300 billion,” he said and went on to say that the Netherlands and Pakistan had a shared heritage in seeking freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary and equal rights for all religious beliefs.

Justice (retd) Baqar said the Netherlands had been a host to educating hundreds of Pakistan diplomats through the Clingendael Academy, the CM said and added that this was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to people-to-people contact between the two nations.