Pakistan-Canada bilateral relationship: Start of a new era

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Pakistan-Canada

Pakistan and Canada are allies in the war against terror, both countries came close to each other after 9/11 and now both enjoy a strong relationship based on mutual respect, friendship, and collaboration. The level of admiration and respect is evident from the fact that more than 300,000 Pakistanis are residing in Canada and contributing almost $50 million annually as remittances to Pakistan.

Canada has supported Pakistan in its efforts against terrorism and extremism. Canada’s help in the aftermath of mammoth floods and 2005 earthquake can never be forgotten by the Pakistanis. It has also extended its assistance in the socio-economic uplift, human resource development, capacity building in agriculture sector and in the exploration of natural resources in Balochistan. Both countries are rich in natural resources. But Canada is much developed country with technical expertise whereas Pakistan is lagging behind in technological advancement.

Canada is represented by the High Commission in Islamabad and two consulates in Lahore and Karachi. Pakistan is important for Canada because of its direct involvement in Afghanistan. Canada is actively involved in Afghanistan. It is training Afghan National Security Force, so it can take over Afghan security in the post 2014 withdrawal of the ISAF. Currently, more than 1000 Canadian military trainers are engaged in Kabul-centered training mission. Apart from this Canada has also helped Pakistan and Afghanistan in economic uplift, governance, gender equality, preservation of human rights, trade, investment and poverty alleviation.

 

Canada is very important country in the global arena. The Canadian economy is the world’s eleventh-largest and its nominal GDP stands at almost US $1.74 trillion in 2011. It possesses immense natural resources and technological advancement which give it a peculiar position is the world affairs. Pakistan and Canada’s cooperation in trade and investment has seen a remarkable surge in last few years. Bilateral trade between both states has crossed $651.1 million. Canadian companies are actively involved in the energy, agriculture, mining sectors, information and communication technologies etc and it is a possibility that this engagement would increase manifold in coming years.

Canada has always supported Pakistan in the difficult times. Canadian International Development Agency- (CIDA) has been involved in Pakistan from last many years.  CIDA has focused on human resource development in Pakistan, and mainly emphasized on education sector, empowerment of the women, health and child care. Canada has also supported Pakistan in the aftermath of the gigantic floods and by 2011 it has provided more than $79.8 million as relief aid.

Individual Canadians also came forward to help Pakistan and they donated more than $46.8 million for flood relief. In the meantime Canadian Disaster management teams also arrived and helped the impoverished people at the calamity-stricken areas. After the earthquake, 2005 Canada committed almost $130 million for earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts. Canada’s help in these two natural calamities will always be remembered and cherished by the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan is blessed with immense natural resources in Balochistan, Sindh and KPK, but due to lack of funds and technical expertise, it is unable to explore this hidden wealth. Canada with immense mining and exploration experience could be viable option for Pakistan. Both countries can cooperate in the exploration of natural resources for mutual benefit. Canada has shown it its interest in the Copper-Gold project in Balochistan with an estimated investment of $ 3.5 billion. Canada’s biggest firm Barrick Gold is interested in investing in Pakistan through this project. With this project relationship between both countries will touch new heights and lives of the people of Balochistan will also improve.

Pakistan is an agrarian country, more than 70% of its population is directly or indirectly associated with this profession. In 2009 Pakistan’s ministry of Food and Agriculture wanted to collaborate with Canada to improve its fading agriculture sector. Canada pledged that it will help and share its experience with Pakistan in improvement of storage facilities for rice, wheat, potato, maize and other agri-products. These steps would be helpful for Pakistan’s food security initiative. Due to lack of proper management and storage facilities every year Pakistan has to import huge quantity of food items including palm oil, wheat, sugar and other food items etc.

Both countries must collaborate in agri-business because Pakistan has huge potential and both countries can benefit from this opportunity. In the aftermath of the floods in Pakistan, Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Mr. Beverley J. Oda announced that Canada will help Pakistan in agricultural recovery. Canada pledged to provide quality seeds, fertilizers, and tools for the impoverished farmers in Punjab and Sindh. Such a support helped Pakistan’s agriculture sector to recover from floods and contributed to the development and food security of Pakistan.

Pakistan and Canada are allies in the war against terrorism and extremism. Both countries have shared goal to establish peace in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and to eradicate menace of terrorism from this region to ensure global peace and stability. Both countries actively exchange information between security forces of Canada and Pakistan to curb menace of terrorism and other crimes. Pakistan and Canada has also agreed to enhance defence cooperation especially in the military area.

Pakistan’s security forces like Frontier corps, Levies, and Khassadarans are fighting militancy in tribal areas. Although Pakistan army and the US worked hard to train these forces but due to lack of resources and political expediencies their training is at standstill. The Canadian Defence Minister Mr. Peter MacKay during his visit to Pakistan offered to re-open and revive Canadian Military Training Assistance Programme (MTAP) which would further enhance defence cooperation between the two countries. Canada can play a vital role in the training of FC, Levies and Khassadarans so they can effectively fight militancy in tribal areas and also secure the border with Afghanistan. This training would revamp Pakistan’s forces deployed in tribal areas and help them considerably to face the challenge posed by highly trained militants.

Pakistan’s CJCSC General Khalid Shameem Wynne recently visited Canada and met Canadian Chief of Defence Staff General Walter J Natynczyk. Both discussed the regional security issues including the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations by Pakistan. Such high-level visits between Pakistan and Canada would enhance their defense relationship.

Pakistan is blessed with beautiful mountains and valleys. The Gilgit-Baltistan is paradise for tourists. Places like Skardu, Hunza Valley, Chitral Valley, Kalash Valley and Garam Chashma are really fascinating. Apart from these areas, there are many other areas in KPK like Takht-i-Bhai, Swat, Shangla, Shogran, Kaghan Valley, Balakot and Kaghan. Every year, hundreds of mountaineers, climbers, trekkers and hikers visit these beautiful places. Pakistan can offer special packages with enhanced security, special discount and transport service for the people of Canada to visit these serene areas. Pakistan can also seek Canadian investment for promoting tourism and trade industry. In this way, Pakistan’s tourism industry will get a boost and people-to-people contacts with Canada will also increase.

PM Raja Parvez Ashraf invited Canadian firms to invest in power sector of Pakistan when he was Federal Minister for Water and Power. He assured extended full support for the Canadian firms. It is expected that after becoming PM, he will focus on this issue and enhance its cooperation with Canada in the water and power sector.  Pakistan’s water and power sector possess huge potential and the investors in this area would get high returns due to incentive-based liberal policy of this government. Pakistan can benefit from Canadian expertise in hydel, coal, and wind power generation.

CIDA has played an important role in the revitalization of the energy sector in Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy has faced huge setbacks due to energy shortfall. CIDA is assisting Pakistan to improve its capacity to manage its hydrocarbon resources more efficiently. Initiatives include strengthening the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources in policy formulation, planning and coordination; development of appropriate regulatory frameworks; and development and enforcement of effective conservation, safety and environmental regulations. All these steps would help Pakistan to efficiently use its hydrocarbon resources and minimise the losses in energy sector. Apart from this Pakistan can seek Canadian help in the renewable energy resources.

Canada has immense expertise in the wind energy sector. Canada’s current installed capacity is close to 5,511 MW. More than 1.5 million homes are benefiting from wind energy in Canada. The Canadian Wind Energy Association has outlined a future strategy for wind energy that would reach a capacity of 55,000 MW by 2025, meeting 20% of the country’s energy needs. This shows how professionally Canada is pursuing this option. Pakistan must collaborate with Canada and revamp its wind energy sector. Pakistan has huge potential for wind energy. Areas in Sindh, like Jhampir, Gharo and Keti Bander have huge potential for wind energy. Proper investment in these areas could address our energy problems. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory USA, Pakistan has a potential of 346 GW of electricity that can be generated only from the wind, and if only 10% of that i.e. 34GW is achieved in the next 15-20 years. With the help of Canada, Pakistan will be on its way towards energy security.

Pakistan can also take help from Canada in the development of Hydroelectricity. Canada is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world after China and one of few countries to generate the majority of its electricity from hydroelectricity. Pakistan must utilize the expertise of Canada in hydroelectricity and build new dams and reservoirs to overcome its energy woes.

Pakistan can seek Canadian help in the development of its huge coal reserves. Pakistan possesses huge reserves of natural resources like coal, natural gas and other minerals. But due to lack of resources, Pakistan is reluctant to extract this immense wealth in Balochistan, KPK, and Sindh. Pakistan can seek Canadian assistance in this regard. Coal reserves in Canada rank fifth largest in the world at approximately 10 billion tonnes, 4% of the world total, whereas Pakistan possess 186 billion tons of coal reserves.  Canadian investors must invest in energy sector of Pakistan and earn huge profit. Both countries can chalk out a plan to mutually benefit from these huge coal deposits in Pakistan.

Pakistan and Canada’s relationship is moving towards right direction. Both countries have immense resources, technological ability and the manpower to give greater substance to the relationship. Both countries collaborated closely in the efforts against militancy and terrorism. Pakistan and Canada are closely working for the peace and stability of FATA and Afghanistan, so that these areas do not become safe heaven for the militants related to Al-Qaeda, Taliban or any other militant group. Pakistan and Canada must extend their social, political, economic and security relations and work for the global peace and security.

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