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January 23, 2021

Pakistan’s ties with N. African countries need bolstering

Islamabad

January 23, 2021

Islamabad:Pakistan needs to set its focus on bolstering diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties with North African states as the historic ties with them remain short of achieving their true potential so far.

The exigency was highlighted in a consultative session titled 'Pakistan's relations with North African countries' organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), which was addressed as keynote speaker by Pakistan's former envoy to Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, Ambassador (r) Mushtaq Ali Shah.

The session was chaired by Executive President IPS Khalid Rahman and participated by Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, Brig (r) Tughral Yamin, associate dean, CIPS-NUST and a non-resident fellow at IPS, GM-IPS Naufil Shahrukh, and Kulsoom Belal, research officer, and focal person for IPS’ ‘Understanding Africa’ initiative.

Speaking about the history of Pak-Egypt ties, Ali recalled that Allama Muhammad Iqbal had visited Egypt in 1931 and King Farouk was so impressed by his philosophy and poetry that he ordered opening up of an Urdu department in Cairo University so that Allama’s work could be understood in the kingdom. Urdu departments were later established in Cairo University, Jamia Al-Azhar, and six other major universities.

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had visited Cairo in 1946 and held meetings not only with the King and government officials but also leaders of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood), Ambassador Ali further recollected.

The former ambassador said that the recognition and appreciation of Pakistan's contributions in Task Force 151, anti-piracy actions, and UN peacekeeping missions in Africa resonates across the North African region, yet their bilateral ties remain short of achieving the true potential.

Highlighting the importance of growing economic and trade ties with North Africa in juxtaposition to Europe, the former ambassador apprised that Pakistan can export its defence equipment, textile, pharmaceuticals, and agro-based goods, services, films, and dramas to North African states.

Concluding the session, DG-IPS Khalid Rahman opined that foreign policy practitioners are skilled in making ways even amidst difficult circumstances. The same applies to Pakistan's foreign office as well which needs to devise lasting policies vis-à-vis North Africa.