Pakistan enjoys cordial trade relations with several members of European Union. Substantial foreign investments in Pakistan come from a number of European countries, which are also a source of important development assistance. Bilateral relations with Spain were established in the late 1950s, with various cooperation agreements signed between the two countries.
The 1970s saw a movement of Pakistani emigration towards Spain, mainly towards Catalonia, with a large influx of Pakistanis in the early 2000s when Spain introduced a scheme of legal amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the country. 2001 saw Spain contribute to the ISAF troops in Afghanistan, with Spain’s Defence Minister visiting Pakistan to meet Spanish troops. The launch of Spain’s 2005 Asia-Pacific Plan saw improved relations with Pakistan. Spanish Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Carlos Cesar Morales Sanchez values the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in war against terrorism and its endeavors for regional peace and stability.
He started his career as a diplomat almost 30 years ago and he has been posted in Turkey, China, the Philippines, USA and Mexico. At the United Nations in New York he had the opportunity to acquire multilateral experience dealing with the Security Council on issues related to Middle East and Africa. While back at the Headquarter in Madrid, he dealt with matters related to Afghanistan and South Asia. Pakistan is his first appointment as an Ambassador. Spain has emerged as the third biggest destination for Pakistan’s exports proceeds during the financial year 2016-17. This is the highest ever increase in Pakistan’s exports to Spain. Prior to the GSP+ facility, the country’s exports to Spain were $564.402 Million.
Once talking about his experience he reveled, “I experienced this kind of cooperation in many countries but I am not myself a cooperation or development expert. Still I believe that providing development represents a very significant aspect of foreign policy. I have witnessed Spanish development policies in countries such as Mexico and the Philippines. In Pakistan, there is a large donor community. I would like to acknowledge the hard work implemented in this area by UN programs and agencies as well as major donor partners, including the European Union.
I keep a very close contact with them. I
believe that through their work, they convey and share their experiences and practices with the country where they are operating which is extremely positive in order to achieve ownership and sustainability. Although mistakes may have been made in the past in terms of development polices, yet comparatively today there is huge improvement in mechanisms compared to 15 or 20 years ago”.
He truly understands the dynamics of this region. He understands that agriculture is still a major employer of women in this country. According to the law, women in rural areas enjoy equal rights to men in terms of issues such as land ownership or inheritance. About Pakistan he further says that in Pakistan, there are some positive developments. More and more women work in public institutions. “I am not just talking about being the prime minister; I am talking about ministers of state or members of Parliament, and from that level down. Women should also be more visible. Everything that serves to promote women’s role and visibility in public life should also lead to provide equal opportunities. At the end of the day, it all comes down to a question of opportunities”, he expressed his views during an interview.
Recently, Speaking at a reception hosted by the Spanish embassy to celebrate the National Day of Spain, , Information Minister said Pakistan looks forward to deepening its partnership with Spain for the achievement of its objectives of peace, prosperity and development. He said the government would welcome investment of European Union countries in projects related to CPEC.
Spain’s Ambassador to Pakistan Carlos Morales revealed that Spain wants to boost relations with Pakistan in the fields of trade and investment. Ambassador in his speech said relations with Pakistan are constantly on the move adding during his tenure as Spanish in Pakistan the trade volume increased by 25 per cent. He further said now the trade volume between the two countries is now 1.3 billion USD. Spain has become the 6thdestination for Pakistani exports. He said he had also tried to enhance people to contacts in the fields of culture, education and tourism and now many Pakistani students are perusing their postgraduates’ studies in Spain. As the security situation improves in Pakistan, many Spanish tourists are coming to the Northern Areas every year.
Over one hundred thousand Pakistanis are living and working in Spain for making our two societies better understand each other, he further added. He also thanked his embassy staff for extending to him full support during his stay in Pakistan. He said he is soon leaving Pakistan after completing his term but assured people that he will be ambassador of Pakistan to Spain and elsewhere. Previously Mr Carlos once expressed his views that Spanish companies are eager to invest in the power sector in Pakistan due to better investment opportunities and good return.
Once Mr carlos revealed that, there are many Pakistanis who have already visited Spain. They usually like to go to the Southern part of the country to visit Islamic influenced monuments in Granada and Cordoba. Then we have Allama Iqbal, who went to Cordoba in 1933 and wrote one of the major poems in Urdu, “Masjid-e-Qurtaba”. So there is a deep spiritual connection. There are many Pakistanis who have made Spain their home and live there happily.
Pakistan is well known for many good reasons. One of those good reasons is for its mountains. Spain is a country of mountains and we have many climbers and mountaineers. I hope more and more climbers from my country will come back in the future to visit the astonishing landscapes of the northern areas of Pakistan.
Spain also wants to further enhance trade with Pakistan as both countries have good potential to improve bilateral trade and economic relations. The frequent exchange of trade delegations and organising single country exhibitions should be encouraged to promote trade and economic relations up to real potential.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine October 2018.