CPBC was privileged to host a dinner in honour of His Excellency Mr. Perry Calderwood, Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, at the Richmond Hill Country Club. Speaking at the event Mr. Calderwood shared his positive experience in Pakistan as well as assured to engage CPBC members for the promotion of trade between Canada and Pakistan.
The special event was packed with over 100 guests comprising of members of the federal, provincial and local governments; prominent members of the business community; a large number of CPBC members as well as former diplomats from both countries.
MPP Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, the eloquent emcee for the event acknowledged the esteemed guests, especially High Commissioner Calderwood, who graciously made time for the CPBC gathering during a personal visit back to Canada.
The evening started with a quick introduction of NexGen, CPBC’s platform for emerging entrepreneurs. TEAM Nexgen comprising of Wania Suleiman, Irfan Siddiqui, and Zain Dossal gave a brief recap of NexGen’s latest activities.
Various speakers highlighted the ongoing contributions of the CPBC and the Pakistani Diaspora in Canada towards the growth in trade between Canada and Pakistan, which crossed the $1 billion mark in July 2015 and continues to show a steady growth to $1.4 billion according to Stats Canada in December 2016. The efforts of both governments were acknowledged in enhancing the free flow of people and trade while working together to remove barriers.
Member of the House of Commons, Mr. Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs) who recently paid an official visit to Pakistan, spoke positively about his experience in Pakistan. He assured the participants that the Government of Prime Minister Trudeau is keen to work with Pakistan and assured them of their support.
Senator Salma Ataullahjan welcomed the High Commissioner and acknowledged the role and good work being done by CPBC.
MP Salma Zahid and MP Rob Oliphant, Co-Chairs, Canada-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association extended their support to CPBC and assured to working towards fostering closer ties between the great people of Canada and Pakistan. They are planning to take a multiparty parliamentary delegation to Pakistan.
MP Iqra Khalid and MP Majid Jowhari acknowledged the outstanding contributions of the Pakistani diaspora and extended greetings to CPBC for its incredible contributions.
CPBC was commended for its efforts in facilitating greater trade and close relations between Canada and Pakistan. They encouraged CPBC to continue these efforts, calling for freer access to visas, reviewed travel advisory to Pakistan, and an emphasis on promoting education in Pakistan, especially for girls. MPP Dr. Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation, and Science, Government of Ontario said he is keen to visit Pakistan and requested for travel advisory to major cities to be reviewed.
Mr. Amir Dossal, President of the Global Partnership Forum, who has served as United Nations Chief Liaison for Partnerships, stressed the need to engage the UN in forging strategic alliances between companies, foundations and civil society across sectors to promote new investments for the Sustainable Developments Goals. Having managed a $1 billion gift to the UN and leveraging it to secure an additional $1 billion, he urged the audience to reach far beyond the current Canada-Pakistan trade level, assuring them that it was attainable.
Dr. Bob Scott and President Wilf Wilkinson representing Rotary International in support of eradicating polio were also present at the event. The event allowed the audience to understand that the world is very close to eradicating polio. Pakistan is one of the three remaining countries. Afghanistan and Nigeria being the other two. During the evening Past International President Wilf Wilkinson and Dr. Bob Scott were able to speak to several MPs in attendance to encourage them to speak to Minister Bibeau and Prime Minister Trudeau regarding Rotary’s request for Canada to assign to the polio program 150 million dollars with a two to one match to Rotarian donated dollars similar to the previous agreement. The eradication of polio is indeed the largest private /public partnership the world has ever seen as a partnership.
Mr. S. M. Muneer, Chief Executive of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan echoed the same sentiments. Mr. Muneer informed the audience that Pakistan stock exchange was ranked 4th in the world in terms of return on investments, a testament of the boost in the flourishing economy of Pakistan and the trade opportunities that it presents. The immense success of Pakistani products across the world and an increasing number of the middle class with huge buying power have made Pakistan a hub of trade in the region. Mr. Muneer emphasized the positive turn in Pakistan’s economy and stability and announced the 4th Canada-Pakistan Trade Expo 2017 scheduled for later this year. CPBC extends its support to the EXPO.
High Commissioner Mr. Perry Calderwood, who began his assignment six months ago, stated that he had been warmly received in Pakistan. He spoke about the potential for increased trade and investment between Canada and Pakistan and commended the role of the CPBC and of Canadians of Pakistani heritage in supporting efforts to strengthen economic ties. He said that “Canadian companies have great expertise and experience in sectors which are likely to experience robust growth in Pakistan in the years ahead, such as ICT, renewable energy, mining, agriculture, and education”. He took note of the business community’s concerns about delayed or denied visas. In this regards, the High Commissioner especially welcomed the leadership role of CPBC in facilitating trade delegations to and from Pakistan. He stated that as High Commissioner he did not have jurisdiction over decisions related to visa applications. However, he advised that the High Commission provided referrals to the visa processing office in Abu Dhabi when it is informed of Pakistani travelers who have been invited by Canadian companies to visit Canada for business purposes with a view to ensuring that such applications are processed as expeditiously as possible.
Following the High Commissioner, the Honourable Consul General of Pakistan Mr. Imran Siddiqui spoke about Pakistan’s mandate to engage the Diaspora in presenting the positive side of Pakistan and generating opportunities for collaboration in trade and commerce, among other areas. He lauded CPBC for its role in facilitating such collaborations and pledged his support.
President of CPBC, Samir Dossal, presented some highlights of CPBC’s recent activities. They included a trade delegation to Pakistan in which delegates had the honour to meet with the Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab, as well as high-level meetings with the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade, the Sindh Board of Investment, and the FPCCI. Recounting the success of last year’s gala, Mr. Dossal announced that the 34th annual gala would be held on May 23, 2017, with an ICT high powered delegation to be hosted at the Gala.
Mr. Dossal shared some inspiring examples of the vibrant contributions of Canadians of Pakistani origin. He highlighted the valuable contributions of two women who had recently been elected to Parliament, namely Ms.Iqra Khalid and Ms. Salma Zahid, joining a growing contingent of leading public officials of Pakistani origin, including Senator Salma Ataullahjan, Dr. Shafiq Qaadri and MPP Mr. Yasir Naqvi, Leader of the House in the Ontario government.
Mr. Dossal also recognised and outlined several innovative and exciting bilateral ventures underway in the public sector, healthcare, power generation, manufacturing, trade, education, and research, which will not only generate trade revenue for both countries but also create jobs, create alternative energy sources, and improve health and well-being of underserved populations.
In his closing remarks, CPBC Chairman Hon. Bryon Wilfert thanked the High Commissioner for his positive remarks and also the leadership role of the Board of CPBC for their tireless support.
He acknowledged the efforts of all present in promoting bilateral trade and close relations: “All of this promises continued growth and prosperity for both Canada and Pakistan, we must stay active and committed to this result.”
The evening ended with energized informal conversations and networking.
CPBC extends gratitude to all its CPBC and CPBC NEXGEN volunteers.
Special acknowledgment to Ms. Sabina Ansari for also compiling this report.