Growing Pak-Canada Relations

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Pakistan and Canada are enjoying longstanding, friendly, and cordial relations for decades. Canada was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan after independence. Canada is represented in Pakistan by a high commission in Islamabad, a consulate and trade office in Karachi, and a consulate in Lahore. Pakistan is represented in Canada by a high commission in Ottawa and consulates general in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The people-to-people ties between Canada and Pakistan are older still. Canada pursues a broad range of interests in its bilateral relations with Pakistan, including people-to-people links, governance and democracy, human rights, climate change, development assistance, regional security and defense, transnational crime, and trade and investment. Since its day of inception, Pakistan enjoys cordial ties with Canada. Canada always welcomes diplomatic relations with the newly formed state. In January 1971, a visit by Prime Minister Trudeau helped to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two states. The Canadian attitude toward Pakistan during the East Pakistan crisis was sympathetic. Faced with a similar problem in Quebec, Canada viewed the issue as an internal matter in Pakistan. After the 1971 war, Canada did not grant recognition to “Bangladesh” and waited until 14 February 1972 when many Western European countries had already extended recognition. Pakistan’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth has not affected her bilateral relations with Canada.

To improve understanding and explain the situation in Pakistan and its point of view regarding its problems with India and Bangladesh, the Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs, Aziz Ahmed, paid a surprise visit to Ottawa in mid-March and held talks with Prime Minister Trudeau and other Canadian officials. In September the visit of the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration, Mark. P. MacGuagin. During the visit, it was made clear that the Government of Canada had not yet set any restriction on the amount of money an immigrant can remit home. It may be mentioned that Pakistan secures a considerable amount of foreign exchange through remittances. Therefore, any restrictions on foreign governments will affect this source of revenue. Both countries also play an active role in the international arena as members of the United Nations. Both have a long history of significant contributions to peace. Canada and Pakistan are also members of the Commonwealth, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process related to security in Afghanistan and the wider region, and the Malta Process on international child abduction. Canada is working with the international community to address the global threat of terrorism. It seeks to ensure that Canada’s interests and values are reflected internationally and to enhance the safety of Canadians at home and abroad. The Canadian government condemns the terrorist attacks in Pakistan, which continue to kill innocent women, men, and children, and recognizes Pakistan’s significant efforts to combat terrorism. Canada encourages Pakistan to continue its efforts to address all its security challenges, in compliance with the rule of law and respect for human rights. Canada believes that democracy is essential to a peaceful and prosperous future for Pakistanis and, to date, supports programs that help strengthen Pakistan’s democratic institutions. This includes the full participation of the other, Canada urges all countries to promote and protect human rights. Canada welcomes an ongoing open dialogue with Pakistan on human rights, including women’s rights and minority religions, in a spirit of mutual respect. In terms of economic relations, Canada has been strongly associated with Pakistan’s efforts for progress and development. After the US, Canada has provided the largest grant aid. A total of $ 157.5 million was promised for the Third Five Year Plan. Demonstrating his active participation in various projects that were built and completed with his funds. Canadian exports to Pakistan amounted to $ 669 million and goods from Pakistan amounted to $ 438 million. Canada is the 21st largest export partner of Pakistan, with bilateral trade exceeding $800.0 million in 2018. Pakistan’s major exports to Canada include rice, textile articles, cotton yarn, jewelry, etc.

However, Canada’s influence on the Pakistani military has always been significantly smaller than that of the US, UK, or China, and it was realized that Canada realistically exerted very little influence. The Pakistan army’s consistent preference for technocratic political forms, and occasional.

People-to-people links between Pakistan and Canada remain strong. More than 215,000 Canadians of Pakistani descent live in Canada in 2019, Pakistan is Canada’s fifth-largest source of permanent residents. Opportunities for Canadian companies exist in education, information and communication technology, cleantech, energy, oil and gas, and the food and wood industries.  Pakistan and Canada share more than 60 years of development cooperation. The priorities of the two-state international aid program are based on the priorities of Pakistan’s development and Canada’s comparative gains in line with the International Women’s Aid Policy. Canada’s development assistance to Pakistan also includes several countries, partnerships, and a humanitarian program. Tourism is an important feature of building relationships. Due to the large population of Pakistan in Canada, bilateral travel is essential for business communication, family communication, and the economic and cultural/social benefits of tourism. In the beautiful landscape of Pakistan, Canada has also been the original donor to the Aga Khan programs that looks into conservation and development such as digging tunnels under glaciers as well as the education of children in the Northern Areas, especially in Gilgit and Hunza. The bilateral ties between Pakistan and Canada are emerging day by day. Canada has been a great support to Pakistan throughout these years, in Commerce, culture, and bilateral cooperation. High Commissioner of Canada to Pakistan Wendy Gilmour says, “We maintain political relations; trade relations and people-to-people contacts as there are thousands of Canadians connected to Pakistan”.  Punjabi is the fourth most spoken language in Canada. “We have people who have migrated from Pakistan, from India and the Sikh community on both sides speaking the language. The Punjabi-speaking community is a big part of the Canadian mosaic, “Our national dish is as much palak paneer as French fries and cheese”.

Canada and Pakistan both are cooperating in diverse fields of commerce, education, humanitarian assistance, etc. One thing that both Canada and Pakistan are affected by is climate change. “Melting glaciers are increasing challenges for people living downstream. Canada is looking to help Pakistan cope better with climate change, with its green energy initiatives.  The current Canadian government supported the stance of the protection of the Muslim community in their state. Both states are enjoying smooth ties for decades and are ambitious to further strengthen these relations. A reasonable Pakistan policy for Ottawa would encourage Pakistan to moderate its domestic and foreign policies, encourages a reduction in defense expenditures and non-proliferation, promotes trade and investment, and obtains access to Canadian official development assistance (ODA). What Canada could not do, because it lacks the power and the domestic support, is to play a major role in Kashmir, or intercede between Afghanistan and Pakistan, or India and Pakistan. Nevertheless, a long, cordial relationship has guaranteed a persistent minimum baseline of Canadian help for Pakistan and has ensured Ottawa’s persistent engagement, however marginal, in Pakistan’s survival.

 

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