Javaid-AhmadThe Pakistan-Kuwait relations are brotherly, based on shared history, traditions and common culture. Both countries have always enjoyed their bilateral, friendly, trade and cultural ties with enormous respect of their commonality and cultural traditions. The bilateral relations exist both at the official-government level and at the peoples’ level. Time has proved that both countries have stood for each other in their most difficult and testing times. Pakistan was among the first countries that sent troops to Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Nine Pakistani soldiers were martyred during mine clearing operations.

Kuwait also responded well to its friendly country and has been the first among countries that have ever extended generous help to Pakistan in difficult times. The Kuwait government donated generously to Pakistan during the deadly earthquake in 2005 and at the time of devastating floods in 2010. Kuwait has contributed almost $25 million to floods-affected people in Pakistan.

Almost 150,000 Pakistani expatriates in all fields are currently working and living in Kuwait. They remit around $750 million a year to Pakistan. This is one of the important foreign exchange sources for balancing the external accounts of the country. In addition to this, there are regular visits of Pakistani naval ships to Kuwait. Pakistan has also trained a number of naval officers of Kuwait in Pakistan. Both countries are part of a joint ministerial commission (JMC) – an active body extending its role towards further strengthening and extending their bilateral relations in all fields.

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited Pakistan in 2006. HH the Crown Price of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited Pakistan in 2013 and the Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait Marzouq Al-Ghanem and the Air Force Chief also visited in 2015.

Although bilateral Pakistan-Kuwait political relations historically remain very strong, however their bilateral economic cooperation has not progressed much. There are several reasons which characterize the certain geopolitical, strategic and security obstacles. Bilateral trade volume between both countries almost touches $2.5 billion a year, though it is far from satisfactory relative to their size and composition of their domestic production and external trade volumes. Pakistan is largely importing crude oil from Kuwait and Kuwait mainly imports, fruits, vegetables, rice and cotton products.

Successive Pakistani ambassadors have tried their best to further strengthen bilateral relations. The current Pakistani ambassador to Kuwait Mohammed Salam Khan, contrary to his predecessors, plays a very active and commendable role towards enhancing and strengthening bilateral trade and cultural relations. He has taken a number of initiatives during his short stay as ambassador of Pakistan in Kuwait. With his efforts, last year’s Expo Karachi and investment conference saw the participation of a large number of Kuwaiti businessman and other trading groups.

He has taken a number of initiatives such as organizing a mango festival/exhibition. A large number of trade groups from Pakistan such as rice exporters, and chambers of commerce of Karachi and Sialkot, have also been invited to exchange their business interests with Kuwaiti counterparts. A wonderful gathering on the anniversary of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of the country, was organized at the Kuwait Teachers’ Association. On the anniversary of the Peshwar tragedy, a dignified meeting was organized at the embassy premises.

The outgoing ambassador is largely supportive of cultural and other activities and plays an active role to represent his community. Recently, the embassy and the Kuwait National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters organized a wonderful musical event in which a very popular singer from Pakistan, Fariha Pervaiz, performed with her beautiful voice and mesmerizing performance, which captivated her audience.

Hardly any ambassador in the recent past in my memory of 35 years in Kuwait has played such an active role towards strengthening these cultural and trade ties in a very short span of time. The ambassadors are usually posted for fixed tenures of three or four years, extendable at the discretion of appointing authorities based on their performance. It is hearting for the Pakistani community to know that the ambassador is reaching his superannuation, which means his retirement.

By Javaid Ahmad