ISLAMABAD: Out of a population of five million, 40,000 Norwegians trace their roots to the Punjab province in Pakistan. “Once the second generation of Norwegians of Pakistani origin got married, they were classified as Norwegians. Therefore, historically if we look at this class of citizens, the figures are much higher than that usually quoted,” Cecilie Landsverk, the outgoing Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan, said this while talking to The Express Tribune.
A number of Norwegian citizens of Pakistani origin are involved in criminal cases such as family feuds and property disputes in Pakistan.
Landsverk said, “Victims or criminals here in Pakistan should not be allowed to fly off to Norway.
There were some efforts made to develop a legal framework and agreement between both the countries for such crimes, but it did not materialise.” She said that there was a dire need to address these crimes.
Since a number of these Norwegian citizens come from Gujrat, Punjab, a modern crime scene unit was established with the help of the government of Norway to help the Gujrat police.
Through the programme, police officials particularly in Gujrat have undergone the first phase of training and capacity building of police officials on investigating crime scenes for better reporting.
“I wish such a programme continues,” the Norwegian ambassador said.
She said there was a need to develop a mechanism to address criminal cases that were traced back to Pakistan.
While the trade figures between the two countries remain stagnant, Landsverk explained that the nature of products produced for exporting from Pakistan are mostly consumer goods such as textile, leather and fruits. She said that the quality of food chain must be improved to increase the volume of trade between both the countries.
Pakistan’s exports to Norway stand at $82 million, and imports from Norway consist mostly of machinery and fish farming, totaling an estimated $14.5million.
“Pakistan is a country with enormous potential. It is quick to change and has strong agriculture, natural resources and hydro-power resources to utilise efficiently in order to progress,” she said.
During her term, Landsverk took the initiative to launch programmes particularly focused on an increased cooperation in the law and order sector.
She explained that the present government was clear about its objectives and was working hard to tackle challenges such as energy shortage and the security issue, which remains a huge concern for the international community. “There are some exaggerated issues, but the problems related to security are still there” Landsverk said.
“At the same time, education and population growth remains a major challenge for the country,” Landsverk said.
“I return with memories, I will cherish for life and an impression, people are not aware of. Pakistan is a country with fantastic opportunities for tourism and exquisite hospitality that comes with big cultures.”
As an important military operation is being carried out in Pakistan, the Norwegian development agency has redirected its assistance towards the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Cecilie Landsverk, the outgoing Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan, said this while talking to The Express Tribune. She said that although the volume of the assistance remained the same, the focus had been shifted to address the needs of IDPs from the North Waziristan Agency.
Landsverk said that the government of Pakistan was not willing to launch a request for assistance which it should.
As Landsverk completes her three year assignment, she not only leaves with her container encumbered with artifacts, shawls from Kashmir and wooden carved chests but also a clearer perspective about the country.
She says Pakistan is a complicated country with a rich history that many are not aware of.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.
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