Friday September 30, 2022

65th annual dinner of The Pakistan Society: Adam Thomson says NGOs, free media essential for Pakistan’s growth

October 28, 2018

LONDON: Britain’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan Sir Adam Thomson has said that a vibrant civil society and free media are essential in helping the government of Pakistan to deliver on the essentials that the growing Pakistani populations needs.

The former diplomat was speaking at the 65th annual dinner of The Pakistan Society at the Dorchester Hotel where His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan was the chief guest. Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Ayub Khan, several leading Pakistani business professionals and officials of the Pakistan Society attended the dinner.

Adam Thomson, Director of the European Leadership Network, warned that Pakistan’s population was growing rapidly and the government must formulate policies to provide jobs to youth. “My sons told me that population grew by 58% in 19 years. That’s an average four million extra Pakistanis per year. And the numbers will be higher each year in every single year to come unless fertility rate drops substantially. Over the next 19 years Pakistan’s population will grow up to 327 million, 120 million more Pakistanis than now, six million more Pakistan every year,” he said.

He said: “only deeper democracy can long run and deliver steady improvement in the governance that Pakistan needs. I believe the Pakistan’s democracy is little by little deepening. But I also believe this is never going to be easy for Pakistan successes for civilian’s government that for many of Pakistan’s young population time is short and that governments need all the help they can get. So, my first thought, the first of my two thoughts is that we should contribute to improving governances in Pakistan.”

He said that countries like Britain should do all they can to support Pakistan’s civil society. “In talking about supporting the civil society I am not talking just about funding as that’s the easy part. I am talking about supporting the civil society in helping government to deliver on the essentials that the growing Pakistani populations needs. Pakistanis business community for example can do and is doing really amazing things. But I am also talking about supporting civil society in holding both government and governance to account,” he said.

Adam Thomson said that it’s important to defend the space in which civil society operates. “Its about freedom of speech and of association, for example about media freedom and protection of journalists in a dangerous parts of the world.”

He gave example of the Aga Khan Foundation and its linked organisations for their good work in development.

The Pakistan Society Award for 2018 was presented at the dinner to Shoaib Sultan Khan. Sir Nicholas Barrington, Honourary Vice President of the Pakistan Society, in the citation address said that the award is being given to Shoaib Sultan Khan “an internationally renowned authority on rural development and alleviation of poverty, who pioneered schemes in the Northern Areas of Pakistan in association with the Aga Khan Foundation”.

Prince Karim Aga Khan, who this year celebrated his Diamond Jubilee as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili, said: “It is a great pleasure for me to attend this year’s Pakistan Society dinner, having attended previously in 1962 and in 2003. My community and the Aga Khan Development Network have strong ties with Pakistan, and the Ismaili Imamat is deeply committed to the future of the people of this country.”

The President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi in his message to The Pakistan Society said that cordial relations between UK and Pakistan are anchored in history, democratic values as well as in a broad based partnership in the political, economic and cultural spheres.

The Acting High Commissioner for Pakistan Muhammad Ayub said in his speech: “We are very delighted to have among us His Highness, The Aga Khan. His presence, indeed, is recognition of the good work of The Pakistan Society.

The Pakistan-UK relations are historical and are translating into economic and trade ties. It would be beneficial if the Society could play its role in introducing economic opportunities in Pakistan and bringing foreign investment in the country. Similarly, the Society can use its platform effectively to raise awareness about water scarcity in Pakistan and help generate funds for building dams in the country.”