KARACHI: Where many have given up on Pakistan due to outbursts of violence in parts of the country and its sensitive political nature, the Italian ambassador to Pakistan, Adriano Chiodi Cianfarani, still thinks that the country is not a lost cause and offers huge potential for investments.
The ambassador was invited to deliver a lecture on Italy-Pakistan bilateral relations on Thursday over a luncheon meeting hosted by the Area Study Centre for Europe at the University of Karachi.
“Yes, there is a law and order problem in the country but one can still visit it to see the reality and the potential that it offers,” said Cianfarani. “The Pakistani market offers lots of opportunities for Italian companies and initiatives. They have always received encouragement at both the federal and provincial levels.”
The economies of both countries complement each other in many ways, with Italy being a world leader in sectors, such as machinery, automotive, energy, textile, leather, jewellery, fashion and agriculture, said the ambassador. “All these areas are of key interest to Pakistan, posing a huge scope for mutual economic collaboration.”
The ambassador, however, noted that the potential bilateral cooperation between the two countries had not been fully explored but it could be achieved by inviting and facilitating Pakistani investors to bring their businesses to Italy.
“At present, around 50,000 Pakistani expatriates, living mostly in the northern part of Italy, are from Gujarat and Gujranwala and contribute positively to the Italian economy with their expertise in textile, agriculture, and trade.”
Cianfarani believed that the way the European Union developed could be a reference for South Asian countries for their integration and progress. “Until 60 years ago, Europeans were killing each other, embroiled with a sense of superiority, hate and prejudice,” the ambassador noted. “But today, these countries are interdependent for their mutual good with extremely high level of integration.”
On Pakistan’s political scenario, the ambassador expressed his high hopes in continuation of the democratic process as he regarded the forthcoming elections as “first ever civilian-to-civilian transition.”
He mentioned that the Italian government participated in the rehabilitation work which was carried out after the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. “Around 57.75 million euros were provided by Italy for people affected by natural disasters in Pakistan and 40 million euros were given for employment and livelihood projects”, he added
The centre’s in charge, Dr Uzma Shujaat, in her welcome address said that Pakistan enjoys close economic ties with Italy, as it is the country’s third largest European Union trading partner after United Kingdom and Germany. “Italy provided $100 million to Pakistan under the Pakistan-Italian Debt for Development Swap Agreement for development projects in the social sector, including health, education and sanitation,” she said, adding that the Italian government had also agreed to provide a credit line equivalent to $10 billion for Italian investors willing to invest in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2013.
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