Pakistan advised to learn from China’s experience in Africa, leadership diplomacy stressed
December 11, 2021 11:08 PM
Pakistan can learn a lot from China’s successful foreign policy on Africa, which has remained consistent over the years and was aimed at human and infrastructure development in the neglected continent.
The approach has earned China many economic and diplomatic dividends. Pakistan should also capitalize on its already existing goodwill in Africa owing to its historic role in the decolonization of several African nations and its significant contribution to the UN peacekeeping missions in the conflict zones of the continent.
This view was presented at a seminar titled ‘Understanding East Africa’ organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) under its ‘Understanding Africa Program’. Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, a senior research associate at IPS, was the session's keynote speaker, which was chaired by the IPS’ Vice Chairman Ambassador (r) Syed Abrar Hussain.
Underlining the potential of the East African region in his presentation, Altaf said that it is the most populous region in Africa comprising 19 countries which are rich in natural resources, minerals, oil and gas, diamonds, gold, and iron ore. However, terrorism, abject poverty, poor governance, conflicts, and uneven models of development are the biggest challenges in the region, he pointed.
Regarding China’s economic development model in Africa, the keynote speaker was of the view that the Africa policy of China has remained consistent till date and Xi Jinping after assuming the presidency of China in 2013 has further augmented it by increasing Chinese investment manifolds, which now stands at $200 billion. Moreover, China has invested in building 24 seaports in 20 African countries apart from apportioning preferential loans for them, and pumping money in various sectors including infrastructure, communication, transportation, mining and extraction.
Commenting on the Engage Africa Policy initiative of the incumbent government, Tajammul Altaf rued that the government reneged on its decision of opening five new embassies/high commissions in Africa as the only high commission that has been opened in Africa in the last three years is operating in Rwanda. Besides, there are only nine functional embassies/high commissions in east Africa despite the fact that the region offers Pakistan tremendous economic and development opportunities.
He also deplored the fact that no Pakistani prime minister or high-level government official has visited Africa in the past several years reflecting the importance of Africa in the eyes of the policymakers, whereas first three foreign visits out of four of Xi Jinping, after assuming the presidency of China in 2013, were to Africa.
The former ambassador also urged the Pakistani leadership to formally visit East African countries and invite their defence ministers and senior officials to the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS). He also stressed the need to open new missions in countries where Pakistan had deployed its troops under UN peacekeeping missions to tap on the existing goodwill.
To strengthen people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and East Africa, the speaker pressed for allocating more seats for East African students in Pakistani universities and offering capacity-building courses to state officials. Moreover, he advised the government of Pakistan to join hands with friendly countries like China, the UAE, and Turkey that have invested heavily in the region to build longstanding bilateral and multilateral relations with African countries.
Concluding the session, Syed Abrar Hussain lauded Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf on giving the elaborate presentation, and underscored the need for Pakistan to rid of a myopic view of Africa which has kept Pakistan away from reaping the benefits of its existing goodwill in the region. #