TEXT: Wouldn't we all wish to be able to celebrate two birthdays in a row? This year, we can: Now celebrating the German Unity Day (the 3rd of October), in a few days the 15th of October, 2021 marks the platinum jubilee of bilateral relations between Germany and Pakistan. It gives me great pleasure to say that over the decades both countries have developed a broad bandwidth in bilateral relations, and that the spectrum continues to grow.
To mark this important milestone, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin in April 2021, who soon afterwards reciprocated the gesture in Islamabad. The fine art of naval diplomacy also came into play, when PNS Zulfiqar visited the port of Hamburg in August, and just a few weeks ago, the German Frigate Bayern performed a partnership visit to Karachi, its first stop in Asia as part of the half-year-long Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021. Many more political exchanges are a testament to the upward move in our bilateral relations. Germany is also strongly committed to multilateral cooperation, and thus our main contribution to fight the pandemic were 2.2 billion euros for the international vaccine platform COVAX, which delivers to 140 nations including Pakistan.
Germany is Pakistan's largest trading partner in Europe. Last year, bilateral trade between our two countries amounted to 2.9 billion euros, and Pakistan is among the few nations who sell more to Germany than they import. Just a few days ago, I was happy to greet the first German business delegation "in flesh and blood" in the new age of COVID-19, to explore opportunities in Karachi and Islamabad. In economic development between governments and via NGOs, Pakistan is a close partner, benefiting from wind energy projects to technical and vocational training. We also look forward to working together under a new bilateral Climate & Energy Initiative. Germany is proud to have a partner in Pakistan who is also determined to save our environment and combat climate change.
Travelling has become possible again - for the growing number of (EU-approved) vaccinated persons!
In addition to business people and tourists, my home country welcomes around 6,000 students from Pakistan, more than 600 of them on a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Due to the pandemic, our cultural events-appreciated by many-had become virtual for now, but together with the Goethe Institut Karachi, we will soon be able to revive physical activities in the cultural scene and again interact with the vibrant creativity of our host country.
With such a good start into another year in diplomatic relations, I am confident that we will continue this close cooperation and take it to new heights together.
German-Pakistani friendship zindabad!
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021