Canada Pakistan Business Council President Samir Dossal hosted an Iftar and welcomed Honourable Jason Kenney Federal Minister of Defense and Multiculturalism, who despite the flooding in Alberta and the delayed flight made it to the Iftar. The exclusive event was hosted for CPBC members, advisers, directors and stakeholders.
The iftar held at the Limelite Cafe, a new South Asian cafe cum bistro style venue in Vaughan was attended by a variety of Canadian and Pakistani business professionals and political figures. Prominent guests were Senator Salma Ataullahjan, Mr. Chungsen Leung, MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Multiculturalism, Ms. Khadija Hayat, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Pakistan, Toronto, Dr. Farooq Dawood, former Chairman of CPBC, Directors and Advisors Jayne Pilot, Farah Shams, Nilufer Mama, Ashfaq Hussain and Javed Mughal. Also present were Judge Rafiq Rokerya, the first Canadian judge of Pakistani origin; Imtiaz Seyid, VP South Asian & Middle East Markets, RBC, Corporate Sponsors to CPBC, and Sonia Abbas; Tara Dawood, of the Ladiesfund Educate a Girl ; CPBC Award recipients Dr. Colin Saldanha; Ms. Aneela Zaib; Badar Shamim; Muhammad Ashraf and Ms. Chantal Desloges, the well known immigration lawyer.
Speaking on the occasion Minister Kenney said that he believed Pakistan was a most misunderstood country, based on what he and others knew first hand from their visits to Pakistan and through his engagement with Canadians of Pakistani origin. He reiterated that the Canadian government now had a more empathetic understanding of the challenges facing Pakistan, and its efforts in addressing these challenges.
He shared comments made by Prime Minister Harper, at the Iftar the Prime Minister hosted at his residence, 24 Sussex Drive, that his house belonged to all Canadians and hoped everyone shared the blessings of the holy month. The Prime Minster also quoted the Muslim tradition that whoever hosted an Iftar also brought goodness upon themselves.
Minister Kenney commended the efforts of Canada Pakistan Business Council under the leadership of President Samir Dossal in boosting the trade relationships between Canada and Pakistan, as well as strengthening the cultural and social ties between the two countries and its peoples.
Earlier, Zain Dossal opened the evening with a brief perspective about Ramadan and the significance of fasting. He then requested the CPBC President to address the gathering.
Samir in his address spoke very warmly of how well the Canadian Pakistani community had integrated into Canadian society whilst simultaneously retaining their social, cultural and faith based values. Samir mentioned that he and his wife amongst others present in the room had the opportunity to attend the first ever iftar hosted by the Prime Minister of Canada and was looking forward to attending an Eid Reception being hosted by the Premier of Ontario; indeed a start of a wonderful tradition. He also shared the various recent developments in the trade and business arena between Canada and Pakistan and specifically referred to the recent successful round-table with Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade on “Canada’s Opportunities in Emerging Markets & Bilateral Trade Between Canada and Pakistan”. At the roundtable, Minister Fast, told the participants that the Government was exploring all avenues of cooperation with Pakistan and very keen to engage the Canadian Pakistani diaspora in their plans. CPBC assured the Minister and participants of its continued support and engagement in this regard.Samir Dossal also took the opportunity to mention the 3rd Round of Pakistan-Canada Bilateral Consultations held in Islamabad. In the meeting both sides underscored the importance they attached to building a broad-based relationship marked by multifaceted cooperation in different fields. Discussing ways and means to expand bilateral cooperation, the talks focused on exchange of high level visits, exchange of parliamentary delegations, strengthening of economic relations, including proposals to enhance trade and investments links and energy cooperation between the two countries. Measures to deepen cooperation in the fields of economy, security & defense, education, banking, science & technology, information technology and culture and media, were also discussed.
The two sides reviewed the status of existing MOU’s and agreements and shared draft MOU’s on cultural cooperation and in the field of Science and Technology. They also shared their perspective on various regional and international issues of mutual interest and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to promote peace and stability in the region. It was agreed that the next Round of Bilateral Consultations will be held in Ottawa on mutually agreed dates.
Samir Dossal also announced the development of a Research and Academic delegation to Pakistan led by Hon. Dr Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in collaboration with Canada Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) at the invitation of National University of Science & Technology (NUST).
He spoke highly of Ms Heather Cruden, the new High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan who has been very supportive of various initiatives of CPBC.
Following him Ms. Khadija Hayat, the young and vibrant Pakistani Vice Consul opened with salutations in French, English and Pashto. She spoke passionately about the need for closer and more effective Canadian Pakistan ties. She reiterated and extended full support of the Pakistani Consulate General to Samir Dossal, the CPBC and the Canadian Pakistani community.
In her address, Senator Salma Attaullahjan, visibly excited to see a fellow Pashtun in Khadija Hayat, told the audience that their villages, in Pakistan, were a mere 15 miles apart. She welcomed Khadija and said that she was happy and proud to see a woman in such leadership roles. She thanked Samir Dossal and the CPBC for continuing to raise the flag and the bar in promoting business and trade ties between Canada and Pakistan and for hosting occasions such as this to bring people together.
Mr. Chungsen Leung, MP Willowdale and Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Multiculturalism spoke about his several very successful engagements in business and his trips to Pakistan. He was very complimentary about Pakistan and the Canadian Pakistani Community living in Canada.
To conclude the formal part of the evening Dr Farooque Dawood, Former Chairman and Advisor, presented a memento to the Minister and presented the vote of thanks.
The event concluded with Minister Kenney engaging freely with all the guests with a round of group photographs.
It was an enjoyable evening with everyone highly complimentary of the venue and its quaint setting and warm interior.
CPBC acknowledges Haider Mehdi and Ms. Naveed Hyder for compiling this report.