“Pakistan offers huge possibilities for investments”
Text: Martina Hošková and M. Zisso; Photo: Archive
At the beginning of its existence, Pakistan had a population of about 32 million. Now, it stands at 230 million, with estimations for the year 2050 being around 366 million. The median age in Pakistan is 22.8 years. Besides other potentially promising areas of cooperation, “there are huge opportunities for investments in supply chain and logistics”, says H.E. Mr. Muhammad Khalid Jamali, Ambassador of Pakistan.
You have been in the Czech Republic for three years. Can you please share some highlights of your Czech experience with our readers?
Czechia is a beautiful country, and Prague is the most beautiful and romantic among European capitals. Czechia, except for Prague, is an unexplored destination among Pakistani tourists. My family and I have enjoyed our stay here, and visiting the beautiful countryside. Czechia’s immense strength in the sciences and its university system were hitherto unknown in Pakistan. It is an area that we are now in the process of strengthening through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Technical University of Prague and the National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad.
I believe that Pakistan is not that well explored by Czech tourists either. What can your country offer in this regard?
Pakistan is very lucky to have beautiful alpine, desert, and coastal topography. We are in the process of developing the tourism infrastructure in Pakistan to facilitate domes- tic and international tourists.
Buddhist tourism has been significantly developed in the past decade with the cooperation of the Republic of Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Thailand. For the first time in Pakistan ́s history, a group of Buddhist monks gathered at Dharmarajika Stupa in Taxila, Pakistan, for the annual rain retreat – vassa. They also performed the ritual commemorating the first sermon in Budhism, which was broadcast live in 32 countries. Taxila is the seat of the Gandhara Civilization, which is more than 2,000 years old.
Pakistan’s alpine tourism, with its rugged landscape, apart from professional mountaineering, is on the rise, and more and more local operators are developing small international standard hotels and tours. Due to the pan- demic, some of these efforts have been hampered, and international investments delayed. We are hopeful that as the world economy picks up, investments in this area will resume and a steady stream of international tourists will start coming in regularly to Pakistan.
Is it difficult to be an ambassador? Does your schedule allow you some free time?
The ambassadorial assignment is an honour, despite the cost of being away from family and friends. I do have some free time and I prefer to spend it at home with my family, listening to Urdu classical and film music, and reading books. I also enjoy wandering through the streets of Prague and discovering beautiful buildings and Prague culture. Besides that, my family and I plan short trips around the Czech countryside.
In the past, you held diplomatic assignments in Pakistani missions in Brussels. The EU Council presidency of the Czech Republic started on 1 July 2022. What are you, with your experience and as a representative of your country, expecting?
Czechia takes on the Presidency of the EU at a critical juncture in contemporary European history. The unfortunate conflict in Ukraine has brought to the forefront the critical issues of refugees and the cost of war. We wish the Czech Republic a very successful presidency despite these challenges. We are hopeful that Czechia will be at the forefront to work towards a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine, and work towards a united and strong Europe, ensuring its energy security and stabilizing the economy and the development of democratic values.
We are confident that the rights of the people of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir will also be safeguarded during its term of the presidency. Pakistan, specifically, looks forward to Czechia’s support in the renewal of Pakistan’s GSP and preferred market status with the EU. Dialogue and resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan are also of great interest to us as the largest host to Afghan refugees for some 40+ years since the invasion by the USSR, as it comes at a huge humanitarian and financial cost for both Afghans and Pakistanis.
The Czechia-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce was created and registered in 2020. What can Pakistan offer to Czech business and industry?
Pakistan is a resource-rich country with a youthful population of 52% between the ages of 19-29. With the Sino-Pakistan economic corridor firmly established, there are several areas of opportunity for Czech businesses to consider investments, particularly offering to derive benefits from the tax holiday regime.
There are huge opportunities for investments in supply chain and logistics, agriculture, and eco-friendly housing. The Czech-Pakistani Chamber of Commerce, under the patronage of the Embassy, is actively working to bring a Czech agricultural machine manufacturer to Pakistan. What ́s worth noting is the fact that, every year, Pakistan produces 20,000 English-speaking software engineers who can provide high-quality services to technology and software firms in Czechia. Additionally, Czech firms will find special incentives to set up operations in software parks. Business visas are now issued on arrival to facilitate interaction. The MoU on the Pakistani-Czech economic cooperation and business promotion was agreed on principally and will be signed in the third quarter of 2022. The Czech-Pakistani Chamber of Commerce was launched in 2020 with the objective to facilitate the activities of businesspersons from Czechia and Pakistan, and to promote the common economic interests of the two sides. We firmly believe that with the signing of the economic MoU this year, this chamber would further augment our business and trade relations, and its members would feel more secure about their investments.