Picturesque Pakistan: the ultimate trade and tourism destination

March 23, 2022 - 08:41

A write-up by Samina Mehtab, Ambassador of Pakistan to Việt Nam, on the National Day of Pakistan.  

A write-up by Samina Mehtab, ambassador of Pakistan to Việt Nam, on the National Day of Pakistan. 

Today, Pakistanis all around the world are zealously observing the 82nd Pakistan Day. On this day, 82 years ago, the foundation for the creation of our beloved homeland was laid down.

Our leaders and forefathers united on one front and demanded their colonial rulers to give them their due rights of liberty and independence. They put forward a concrete demand for their envisaged homeland and vowed not to rest until their dream of a separate and free country was fulfilled. From March 23, 1940, to August 14, 1947, they worked tirelessly and finally realised their dream against all odds.

Today, Pakistan is a progressive country with a vibrant nation and enormous potential. The divine has endowed it with matchless natural resources and landscapes and flora and fauna of all sorts. Pakistan also possesses a rich and diversified cultural heritage. Our multi-ethnic people speak over 70 different languages and have distinct lifestyles.

Minar-e-Pakistan, the national monument in Lahore, marks the site where the Pakistan Resolution was passed on March 23, 1940.  — Photo courtesy of the embassy 

Pakistan also has inherited a multitude of archaeological sites, most notable of which is the Buddhist heritage sites. Pakistan was indeed the seat of Buddhism, evident by its spectacular remnants of the Gandhara civilisation scattered all over the country. The city of Taxila, about 35 kilometres from Islamabad, with its riches of archaeological sites, is generally regarded as the first stop by foreign tourists, particularly Buddhists.

Most of the Buddhist archaeological sites in Taxila were built between 600 BC and AD 500 and are located around the Taxila Museum. For over a thousand years during the heydays of Gandhara civilisation, Taxila remained a centre for promoting sculpture, architecture and education in Buddhism. Over 50 sites of archaeological importance are scattered within a radius of 30 kilometres around Taxila, and all of them are based on the life of Lord Buddha.

Another Buddhist site of archaeological and historical importance is in Takht-i-Bahi, which is located about 170 kilometres from Islamabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The site comprises ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery situated high atop a 152-metre hill. Takht-i-Bahi was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980 as the largest Buddhist archaeological site dating back to the Gandhara period. In addition to two stupas, it has many other relics and remains. Moreover, the Swat Valley also has many Buddhist carvings and stupas. To showcase the Buddhist heritage, a number of Buddhists have also been made. These archaeological sites and museums can be a huge source of attraction for religious tourists from Việt Nam.

As far as our economy is concerned, Pakistan is doing exceptionally well in textile and information technology besides other sectors. The textile sector of Pakistan is capable of harnessing US$50 billion for the economy of Pakistan, according to the latest World Bank Report (Pakistan’s Development Update, October 2021).

The sector provides large-scale jobs to the nationals and has a huge share in the exports of the country coupled with a magnanimous room for value-added textile products. The textile industry has seen major growth in the most recent global pandemic.

Pakistan managed its COVID-19 conundrum by effectively imposing smart lock-downs, not letting the economic activity stop for the larger interests of the nation and by inherently having superior quality of fabric and raw cotton exports which are liked and appreciated worldwide. 

Pakistan’s information technology exports have crossed $5 billion per annum, with IT export remittances exceeding $1.44 billion, including telecommunication, computer and information services. More than 12,000 IT & ITeS companies are currently registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, comprising domestic and export-oriented enterprises. Currently, Pakistan has 500,000 English-speaking IT & BPO professionals with expertise in current and emerging IT products and technologies.

Over 25,000 IT graduates and engineers are being produced each year in Pakistan. Pakistan ranks fourth in the overall global market for freelance development earning US$ 1.2 billion.

Pakistan already enjoys excellent relations with Việt Nam. However, in today’s era of economic diplomacy, both our countries should take steps to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment. As elaborated above, Pakistan’s tremendous potential in textiles and information technology can be a huge avenue of economic collaboration between Pakistan and Việt Nam. VCCI and VietTrade are being regularly engaged by Pakistan’s Embassy in Việt Nam for this purpose. With consistent efforts, both countries can take the bilateral trade up to US$ 1 billion.

The seven-metres tall Buddha statue located in Jehanabad, Swat, was carved in the 7th century and is one of the most impressive pieces of sculptures of the Gandhara civilisation. — Photo courtesy of the embassy

This year, Pakistan and Việt Nam are celebrating 50 years of their bilateral relations. The celebrations have already been started by placing a wreath at the Mausoleum of the Father of the Vietnamese nation, Hồ Chí Minh. A number and variety of activities and events will be organised during the course of the year. These commemoration activities will strengthen our bond with our Vietnamese brothers and take the relationship to new heights.

Enhancement of trade and tourism coupled with goodwill activities like observance of the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations will indeed abet in developing a multi-faceted relationship. The Vietnamese people and departments have been more than welcoming to all Pakistan's initiatives. With the current pace of developments, it can be said with certainty that soon, Pakistan and Việt Nam will realise the full potential of their bilateral ties for the benefit of the two peoples. VNS