Italy - Pakistan Relations

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

---------------( Tazeen Akhtar )----------------
Italy celeberates its Republic Day on 2nd of June every year. Festa della Repubblica ( Festival of the Republic) commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. With 12,717,923 votes for a republic and 10,719,284 for the monarchy. To commemorate it, a grand military parade is held in central Rome, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic in his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Prime Minister, formally known as the President of the Council of Ministers and other high officers of state also attend.

On this auspicious occasion, it is pertinent to have a view of the bilateral relations between Italy and Pakistan.

Ambassador of Italy to Pakistan Adriano Chiodi Cianfarani throws light on mutual relations in his comments on the website of Italy Pakistan Business Forum. The Ambassador says that " I feel it is a privilege and an honor to have the possibility to represent Italy in a country with which we have a longstanding friendship and very close ties.

Pakistan is a very beautiful country with a rich culture and warm and welcoming people. It is true, it has several complex challenges to face and Italy will stand next to Pakistan to help it weather these difficult times.

Our two countries already enjoy close economic ties with Italy being Pakistan's third EU commercial partner with a bilateral exchange of about 1.5 billion Euros in 2011. The economic and commercial relations between our two countries are therefore very good, nonetheless I believe there is scope for further growth. In fact, the economies of Italy and Pakistan complement each other in many ways, with Italy being amongst the leaders in sectors such as machinery, automotive, infrastructures, energy, textile, leather, jewelry, fashion and agriculture. All areas in which Pakistan has key interests. The scope of bilateral collaboration in the economic sector is therefore very large.

In a lecture on Italy-Pakistan relations that he gave at the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, he hilighted the salient features of the relations. He said

" Pakistan and Italy share the same vision of global peace and regional stability, both countries lead the Uniting for Consensus group of countries in order to find a shared solution that shall reinforce the credibility and the effectiveness of the UN, and Italy has traditionally supported all Pakistani candidatures to multilateral forums and institutions.

Italian Development Cooperation is funding a portfolio of over 226 million euros of development projects all over Pakistan, in close collaboration and partnership with the Pakistani government at the federal and provincial levels.

Italy has been very active in Pakistan in the cultural field. Italian archaeological mission in Swat had been active over the last 60 years, which is accredited with the restoration of important Gandhara sites and very recently the discovery and restoration of the Udegram Mosque. Italian archaeologists have also been working in Sindh, both in past and present. Italy this year co-sponsored for the first time the 2013 edition of the Karachi Literature Festival, as an important instrument to promote literacy and education.

Pakistani community in Italy consists of about 150,000 people, mostly living in the northern industrial area of the country, mainly coming from Gujrat and Gujranwala to work in industry, agriculture and trade.

Italy – Pakistan Bilateral Trade and investment relations are growing.Italy has always followed with keen interest the Pakistani market and in the past decades has increased its’ positioning, becoming one of the top ten global trading partners of Pakistan and the third among EU member states, after the UK and Germany, with a growing trade exchange amounting in 2011 to approximately $1.5 billion.

Pakistan and Italy signed a Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) under which the two countries committed to increase bilateral cooperation particularly in the fields of defence and security on 2nd February, 2013. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who was visiting Italy, and her Italian counterpart Giulio Terzi di Sant’ Agata signed the agreement in Rome.

SEP represented an important landmark in Pakistan-Italy relations. It would help chart the future course of bilateral cooperation in a structured manner.Under the SEP, the two countries agreed to deepen cooperation in political, security, defence, development, economic, scientific, cultural, energy, migration and educational fields.

The agreement provides for greater interaction between defence forces of the two countries and increased inter-parliamentary interaction.It would serve as an overarching framework for mutual cooperation across the entire spectrum of bilateral relations through regular institutionalised contacts.Foreign Ministers of Italy and Pakistan will meet once in three years to review the implementation of the SEP and the foreign secretaries annually to steer its implementation.

In view of the large Pakistani community living in Italy, the two sides agreed on consular and immigration issues.Pakistani diaspora is mostly concentrated in cities of Milan and Brescia.

Italy and Pakistan established diplomatic relations in 1948 and they share common positions on the UNSC reform.The intensification of relations at the inter-governmental level has been accompanied by a new impulse in the private sector with businesses developing new associations.

Italy Pakistan Business Forum's main aim is developing activities in aid of commercial exchange with Italy, of assisting enterprises and furthermore of supporting the development of economic relations and any possible collaboration between entrepreneurs of the two countries.

Mr Tariq Sharif Bhatti the President of IPBF says that IPBF earnestly pledged to ensure effective initiatives to remove the pitfalls enabling smooth sustainable expansion of Italy-Pakistan socio-economic joint ventures. Therefore, IPBF aims in mobilizing Italian-Pakistani businessmen to make joint investment ventures in Pakistan’s huge lucrative market of 180 million people and gateway to landlocked Central Asian States as well as Asian countries. IPBF has squarely accepted the challenge to achieve improvements of socio-economic conditions of Pakistan enticing value-added interface with the European economy.

Italy has always been a strong champion of free-trade between EU and Pakistan aimed at facilitating export of Pakistani goods to Europe. This clear patronizing support by the Government of Italy and elegant guidance by His Excellency Vincenzo Prati, the Ambassador of Italy has enabled this IPB Forum to usher into strategic relationships where Italian-Pakistani companies can develop their businesses befittingly by ushering into reliable mutual interests. Pakistan has recently witnessed a significant increase in exports as a result of rapid improvement in the international trading environment. Pakistan adopted an export-led growth strategy in 2000 /2001 but the success of this strategy obviously requires that Pakistan shall have greater access to international markets for its products by negotiating bilateral and regional trade agreements which can be facilitated easily by IPBF through generous support of esteemed Italian export authorities.

02 June 2013