As a career diplomat
from the Foreign Service of Pakistan, with over 29 years of service in
Pakistan’s Missions abroad as well as in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Islamabad, Ambassador Syed Ishtiaq
Hussain Andrabi has been appointed as Ambassador of Pakistan to Norway in
October 2011. He has previously served as Ambassador of Pakistan to Argentina,
with concurrent accreditation to Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, from 2006 to
Also, Andrabi has
served as Additional Foreign Secretary (Europe) in 2009, responsible for
Pakistan’s bilateral relations with the countries of Europe and for
multilateral engagements with European Union, NATO and the Commonwealth. In addition, he was Foreign
Secretary (Administration) in 20010-11, in charge of human, financial and
material resources of the Ministry.
His other appointments
abroad included Counselor at Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations
at New York from 2001 to 2004, where he represented Pakistan in the Third
Committee of the UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights, Committee
on Social Development, Committee on Status of Women, and NGO Committee, and
participated in inter-governmental negotiations and debates on issues of human
rights, social development, humanitarian affairs and cultural matters.
Also the experienced
diplomat served as Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan at Colombo (2004-05),
Deputy Head of Mission at Beirut (1996-98), Consul of Pakistan at Manchester
(1992-95) and Third/Second Secretary Pakistan Embassy in Doha (1985-89).
am really amazed how the diplomats handle with frequent transition from culture
to culture, climate to climate? How do you personally deal with this constant
and challenging adaptation period?
It is challenging for
both me and my family. They are moving from country to country with different
cultural backgrounds with me. For example, we were in New York for three and half years and moved to Sri
Lanka, which is warmer and humid and has different cultural traditions. Then,
as my first posting as Ambassador, I
went to Latin America, which is another new cultural and social experience. I
think the key is to keep a positive
attitude toward the moving idea and
changing environments. I love moving but my children might have to face more challenge as they have to
adapt to different educational systems, and social and cultural environment, to leave their friends behind. For
example my children have been shuttling
between British, Pakistan and America systems of education, in UK, Lebanon,
USA, Sri Lanka and Argentina.
do you ever feel regretful for having such a life style and becoming a
I like this profession.
It was a deliberate move to be in this profession. I thoughtthe diplomatic service would give me
to serve my country in a better way, which I always dreamed about. I thought it
could give me chance to use my potential in political science in this way for
of my country. I can say it was my dream job. If I had a chance to redesign my
life, I would probably go for the same job again. It has shaped my life in a
very positive way so I am very happy and never regret about it.
people think that being diplomat includes a routine life, is it a true perception?
All works somehow have
a routine side. Diplomatic service is not different in that sense. But monotony
is broken as you can move from one country to another. And every new posting is
a new life experience.
about your new experience here? How do you face the cold weather in Norway?
I have come here in
October, and this period gave me chance to prepare for the winter. I am living
in Holmenkollen and I feel I am prepared for the famous Norwegian winter. In my
earlier days, in Manchester, I was
used to shorter and darker days. I was in New York between 2002 and 2004. The
ones who visited the city know well how it can be cold. Advantage of being in
diplomatic service is to be in different parts of the world and you
acclimatized somehow. Snow does not bother me. I am enjoying my winter here in
see that Pakistan government has appointed a very important and experienced
diplomat like you to Norway. What does Norway mean for Pakistan?
Norway has always been
a very important friend and development partner of Pakistan. They have assisted
us in our socio economic development by giving financial and project
assistance. For the last 40 years, a sizable number of Pakistani origin people
have come to Norway and made Norway as their home country. The presence of
these 35 thousand people makes a stronger bridge between two countries.
Also, both our
countries’ perception on international issues is either similar or convergent. Another
important issue is on the multilateral diplomacy. Norway and Pakistan both
share common values in the international matters. In many international forums,
we also physically sit next to Norway, which fits our diplomatic position
towards Norway. So, we have a lot of reasons to have good relationship with Norway.
Especially Norway‘s important role in international affairs supports this friendship
in more positive way. It is a small county in size but the works in terms of
conflict negotiation is huge and exemplary.
the sour relationship with NATO affect the ties with Norway as a member of the
organization and active participant of war in Afghanistan?
That issue is totally different.
Pakistan has always been in forefront
of fight against the international terrorism. Therefore, we suffered a lot in
human and material loses. 30,000 civilians
killed in acts of terrorism and over
6000 soldiers, died fighting terrorism.
Our economy suffered a loss of over
70 billion dollars in this effort. We have our sensitivity in this issue and we
believe, we have paid more than our share as a frontline state
against the terrorism. In the last incident, we were expecting the NATO and USA
to apologize for our soldiers who were shot to death by the NATO soldiers. We
expected a sign of regret.
you have any expectation in this ongoing costly fight against international
terrorism from your ally and specifically Norway?
We are trying to
fulfill our responsibility as member of international community. It should be
known that it is not local or regional issue but a global international problem.
And it is in the interest of everyone including Pakistan, Norway, USA, and
China and so on. We have suffered heavy losses while fulfilling our international
responsibility in this global problem. Meanwhile, our economy was affected
negatively. We expect Norway and powerful states to use their economic power to
help us to rebuild our economy.The
best way to help us to do this is to give us the market access, help us
acquiring cheap energy in Pakistan, as Pakistani an Energy deficient country. Lack of energy is a
major factor for slow down
of our economy. We need preprential treatment
in our trade. At the end of the day, economy makes the country strong and helps
us to deal with the social dimensions of the unemployed youths’ problems. It is
only possible by building our economy and creating job opportunities. We
request Norway and other NATO allies not
to abandon Afghanistan after withdrawal of NATO troops 2014. We hope that in the following years the war in Afghanistan will end and foreign troops will withdraw then
Taliban-like groups would have no reason to continue fighting. When that
happens, Pakistan and the region
will be able to utilize their potential for
social and economic development.
Pakistan is located in
a very strategic area between Central Asia, South Asia and the Gulf. We can be
energy corridor and hub of commercial transportation. . We would like Norway,
as a technologically developed state, to come and invest in Pakistan. To bring
new technology and then we can create market economy and more jobs to safeguard
the next generation from extremism.
Actually, Norway is no stranger in the
Pakistani market. Telenor is one of the largest telecommunication companies in
our country with 2 billion US Dollars investment. Both Telenor and some other
Norwegian companies have invested in Pakistan successfully even in most difficult
times. It shows that Pakistan has a great potential for investors. In fact terrorism breeds when there is economic deprivation, these kinds of investments help us to address the grass roots of extremism and terrorism better.
fact terrorism breeds when there is economic deprivation, these kinds of
investments help us to address the grass roots of extremism and terrorism
kinds of investment areas are available in your country?
Pakistan is one of the
most investment friendly countries providing a diversified economic opportunity
in our region. First of all, the location of the country can be utilized very
well. Energy infrastructure is a very good option for investors. Also Pakistan
has alot of hydro carbon and mineral resources such as copper and gold. We are also very close to
Gulf region, where there is a huge consumption potential. Raw food and food
processing is another potentially profitable investment area. Moreover, thinking
of the large and young population, consumer electronics is a promising field of
the Pakistani Diaspora in Norway have any contribution to this economic
They are, first of all,
to contribute totheir host
countries. They are already serving this mission with a lot of skilled engineers,
doctors and hard working laborers here to meet the needs of Norway.. They have at
the same time maintained ties with Pakistan; they made investments and brought
new technologies. They have made important contributions to our country. We are
grateful and proud of what Pakistani people do for being good representative of
Pakistan with their positive contributions to Norway. They are the real
ambassador of Pakistan. Strong Pakistani
diaspora living in Norway are acting as
ambassadors of good will for both countries.
is an exemplary country in terms of female participation in politic. But at the
same time, gender issue is debated very often. How do you explain it?
This misconception stems from both lack of
proper knowledge on our country and Pakistan’s insufficient representation
itself. Pakistani women had right to vote from the very beginning. One of our
first ambassadors was a lady back in late 1950s. She was ambassador to many
important countries. We had also some female ministers. Right now, as you
mentioned, Benazir Bhutto was the first female prime minister for two terms at
a time when many European countries did not have women as head of
governess. Right now the speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly and our Foreign Ministers are women. We
have also had female ministers and
judges in Supreme Court at top positions. 33
percent of members of parliament are women. 15 of around 90 diplomatic missions are headed by women Ambassadors. In the education, women have also important roles. In
many households, women work. The literacy level is almost the same as men. The
women are traditionally encouraged to take part in socioeconomic life either
with their head cover or without it. Of course we have problems in some
communities but in most of Pakistan, women are empowered to take part in social life.
have currently had a very young female Foreign minister. How is it working with
a female minister?
We did not find her a stranger.
her appointment as Foregin Minister, she was Minister for Finance and Economic
Affairs for many years. She has had
already a successful track record at a relatively young age. I think she comes
with leadership qualities and is well educated. So, it is a great asset for us.
we come back to you again; in your short stay, is there anything which amazed
you about Norway?
It made me very happy
the way Norwegians love the nature and Norway preserves its nature so well.
Also, winter is usually a bother in many countries, but here people see it as
blessing and they start to be worried when the winter does not come. Secondly,
the sense of responsibility among the people and peace loving nature of the
people impresses me. I chose to come
Norway on purpose, as I really would like to learn from this exemplary
country’s successful practices in good
governance, human rights and many other areas of social welfare.
About Ambassador Syed Ishtiaq
holds Masters Degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Lahore
and Diploma in Arabic Language and Middle Eastern Studies from American
University Cairo (Egypt) and he is married with a daughter and a son who
studied and are living in the USA.
Pakistan’s Young Female Foreign Minister: An Extra Ordinary Face
in the International Arena
Photo : World Economic
Forum Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of
Foreign Affairs of Pakistan at the Annual Meeting 2012 of the World Economic
Forum in Davos
Hina Rabbani Khar (1977) is the Foreign Minister of
Pakistan. Appointed in July 2011, she is the first female and the youngest
person to ever head Pakistani’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She was elected to the National Assembly in both
2002 and 2008 and was Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs
between 2008 and 2011.
Khar was appointed Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs—the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—on 11 February 2011,
as part of Gillani’s cabinet reshuffle. After Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s
resignation as Foreign Minister, she became acting Minister of Foreign Affairs
on 13 February 2011. She was approved as Foreign Minister on 18 July and was
sworn-in on 19 July, becoming the youngest and first female Minister of Foreign
Affairs. President Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Musharraf in 2008, said the
appointment was “a demonstration of the government’s commitment to bring
women into the mainstream of national life”.
Shortly after her appointment, she visited India and
held peace talks with her Indian counterpart, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna.
Relations between the two countries had been suspended following the 2008
Mumbai attacks, resuming in February 2011. The Indian media reported
extensively on her fashion and appearance—the Birkin bag, the sunglasses, the
Jimmy Choo stilettos and the pearl necklaces, for example. She held talks with
separatist leaders of Kashmir before meeting Indian government representatives,
a decision which was criticised by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main
opposition party of India, who said it was a breach of protocol and demanded an
inquiry into the matter.
Pakistan displays some of Asia’s most magnificent
landscapes as it stretches from the Arabian Sea, its southern border, to some
of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges in the north. Pakistan is also
home to sites that date back to word’s earliest settlements rivaling those of
ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The country has a total area of 796,095 sq km and is
nearly four times the size of the United Kingdom. From Gwadar Bay in it’s
south-eastern corner, the country extends more than 1,800 km to the Khunjerab
Pass on China’s border.
Name Islamic Republic of Pakistan
of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948)
Poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938)
of the State Asif
of Government Syed
Yousaf Raza Gillani
Population 165806000 (March7, 2009)
Religion 97% Muslims, (77 % Sunni, 20% Shi’a)
Christian Hindu 3%
Per capita income US
Currency Pak. Rupee.
Imports Industrial equipment, chemicals,
vehicles, steel, iron ore, petroleum,
edible oil, pulses, tea.
Exports Cotton, textile goods, rice, leather
items carpets, sports goods,
handi-crafts, fish and fish prep. and fruit
Languages Urdu (National) and English (Official)
Parliament Parliament consists of two Houses i.e., the
Senate (Upper House) and the National Assembly (Lower House).
The National Assembly has a total membership of 342
elected through adult suffrage (272 general seats, 60 women seats and 10
Hockey, Football, Squash.
Quetta, Hunza, Ziarat, Swat, Kaghan, Chitral and Gilgit
sites Moenjo Daro,
Harappa, Taxila, Kot Diji, Mehr Garh, Takht Bhai.
Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan
Wheat, Rice and Sugarcane
Industry Textiles, Cement, Fertiliser, Steel,
Sugar, Electric Goods, Shipbuilding
Energy sources Electricity
(Hydel, Thermal, Nuclear) Oil, Coal, and
Liquid Petroleum Gas