Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner to Canada Shahbaz Malik has expressed the confidence that bilateral relations between Pakistan and Canada would further expand in the days ahead to include a full spectrum of political, economic, security, and cultural arenas for the mutual benefit of both countries and their people.
He said that Pakistan and Canada established bilateral diplomatic relations in 1947, shortly after Pakistan’s independence, and the relationship had grown from strength to strength over the decades. He said both Pakistan and Canada continue to cooperate on bilateral and multilateral fora due to a commonality of views on several global challenges like peace and security, climate change, and multilateralism. He lauded Canada’s “invaluable humanitarian support to Pakistan through the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Shahbaz Malik made this statement while addressing a gathering of members of the Pakistani diaspora, local dignitaries, and members of the diplomatic corps, including high commissioners and ambassadors, invited to a Qawwali performance organized by the Pakistan High Commission in collaboration with the Delegation of Ismaili Imamat in Canada. The event was dedicated to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Canada as well as the 75th Independence Day of Pakistan falling this year.
Various Canadian Senators and parliamentarians as well as Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, and Dr. Mahmoud Eboo, AKDN Representative to Canada, also attended the function.
Welcoming the guests to the event, Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Shahbaz Malik observed that Pakistan at this significant juncture of our bilateral relations between Pakistan and Canada was looking forward to expanding these ties to cover political, economic, security, and cultural fields. He underlined the importance of cultural linkages between people and their role in strengthening bilateral relations and described the Qawwali event as an effort to introduce the Canadians to Pakistan’s vibrant music and culture.
He told the guests Qawwali as a traditional form of Sufi music and poetry had gained considerable global audience and recognition due to the deep spiritual message it conveyed to the listeners. He also thanked Dr. Eboo and the AKDN team for their generous collaboration in arranging the event.
He also recalled AKDN’s historic association with Pakistan, particularly the role of His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III as the first President of the All-India Muslim League as well as being a comrade of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah during the freedom struggle for Pakistan. He said AKDN had been contributing generously to the health, education, and social development sectors in Pakistan, and the Government and the people of Pakistan deeply valued that support.
Speaking on the occasion, Paul Thoppil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Affairs Canada, described the Pakistan-Canada relationship as being strong and underpinned by strong people-to-people ties. He said Pakistan was the fifth-largest source of immigration to Canada with more than 250,000 Canadians of Pakistani origin living in Canada.
He said Canada values its bilateral relationship with Pakistan and there are many regular opportunities for engagement between both countries. He highlighted a significant high-level engagement over the last year between both countries, including calls between foreign ministers of both countries as well as a visit of Canada’s deputy foreign minister to Pakistan. He thanked Pakistan for extending valuable support to Canada in fulfilling its commitment to move 40,000 Afghan nationals to Canada.
Thoppil described as very positive the economic relationship between both countries and appreciated the growth in bilateral trade which had risen to $ 1.2 billion in 2021. He also underscored a recent signing of the framework by Canada’s Barrack Gold for relaunching the Reko Diq mining project in Pakistan. He said the project had the potential for Canada to be one of the largest foreign investors in Pakistan.