By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Mar 21 (Diplomatic Star): Mauritius High Commissioner to Pakistan Rashidally Soobadar on Monday commemorated the 55th anniversary of Independence Day and 31st Mauritius Republic Day here at a local hotel.
The ceremony was commemorated by playing national anthems of both countries, which was also attended by the Dean of the diplomatic corps H.E. Mr Atadjan Novlamov, Additional Secretary Africa Mr Javed A. Umrani.
Speaking on the occasion Rashidally Soobadar lauded the deeply rooted cordial relations of both countries and said, today Mauritius is a safe and secure country, as it is one of the most peaceful countries on the African continent.
He also thanked prominent personalities, diplomats, and excellencies and special thanks to the Deputy Head mission and staff for organizing this event in a peaceful manner.
The high commissioner also highlighted the significance of independence and cherished the value of freedom, Mauritius has changed the whole destiny of the island in a short span of time, he added.
On the occasion, his excellency offered sympathies with all the victims of natural calamities in Turkey, Syria and flood in Pakistan.
He also shed light on the achievements since independence on 12 March 1968. Mauritius values peace, security, law and order, good governance, accountability, accessibility and rule of law.
He said Mauritius offers tourism expertise to exploit the untapped potential of the sector, saying he believed it can significantly contribute to the national economy.
Mauritius has a strong road infrastructure and standard hotels quality transport was also vital to facilitate and attract tourists.
He said the entire world was facing a difficult time and despite severe lockdowns due to Covid-19, Mauritius’ economy was recovering gradually from these financial constraints.
In the area of tourism, the ambassador said that Mauritius and Pakistan have vast potential and since our sectors differ, there is huge scope for cooperation on a win-win basis.
Rashidally Soobadar, said ” the Pakistan destination is very varied but in-land connectivity like a dense network of railway tracks for high speed trains is a major challenge. Another challenge in Pakistan is the lack of trained personnel; an area I believe Mauritius can help Pakistan.”
Rashidally said that the successive Governments of Mauritius and the private sector over the past 50 years have been able to build a brand of tourism which caters for high spenders since with a population of 1.2 million we are visited by another 1.5 million tourists each year.
Air travel is now becoming costly and since Pakistan is geographically located in the North of the Indian Ocean whereas Mauritius is in the Southern tip of the Indian Ocean, keeping in view the high inflation rate, the ambassador said unless ” We can offer incentives for travelers, besides ensuring competitive packages and guarantee the safety of tourists, we will not be preferred destinations for tourists.”
REPLYING TO A QUESTION ABOUT BILATERAL RELATIONS OF MAURITIUS AND PAKISTAN
The Ambassador said that Mauritius and Pakistan established diplomatic relations on 12 March 1968, and Mauritius opened a High Commission in June 1970.
He said that Pakistan falls within a select group of countries with which Mauritius entertains special relations. Indeed, the ancestors of people of Mauritius come from different continents and with these countries are known as “pays de peuplements”.
Mauritius is an insular State which is trading with the whole world. ” We depend on imports to meet of food requirements, energy requirements and consumer goods. Hence, areas of cooperation are vast and I cannot limit myself to a few areas and our respective Governments have concluded many agreements and MoUs which reflect the dense and highly rich nature of bilateral relations.”
TO ANOTHER QUESTION ABOUT TRADE OF TWO COUNTRIES
The Mauritius envoy said that Trade is very important for a Small Island Developing State like Mauritius. Trade helps us overcome the challenges arising from our insularity.
Therefore, given the excellent political relations which exist between Mauritius and Pakistan “I would say the sky is the limit.” Rashidally Soobadar said that Our respective private sectors should be creative and daring enough to avail of the web of agreements which our two Governments have concluded.” We are soon to start bilateral negotiations on a Trade and Investment Treaty since we mutually agreed to terminate the bilateral “Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement “ signed in April 1997.”
REPLYING TO ANOTHER QUESTION REGARDING PEOPLE TO PEOPLE CONTACT
Rashidally Soobadar said that connectivity by air and sea is most important to promote people-to-people contacts and trade exchanges. Currently, Emirate Airlines is linking Mauritius and Pakistan and I must add that air travel has picked up over the past few months.
REPLYING TO ANOTHER QUESTION ABOUT TOURISTS INSECURITY IN PAKISTAN
” Pakistan suffers from an image deficit as portrayed in the Western media and which does not reflect the reality on the ground in Pakistan” Rashidally Soobadar said.
Ambassador Rashidally Soobadar said that there are undeniably pockets of insecurity. However, he said Pakistan is a huge country and overall there is peace and security in Pakistan.
“The people of Pakistan is very welcoming and Pakistan has a rich historical, cultural and culinary heritage which is unique.” The envoy said that it is the policy of the Government of Mauritius to facilitate travel of all categories of persons visiting or interested to visiting Mauritius.
Ambassador Rashidally Soobadar said that the High Commission of Mauritius here would facilitate Pakistanis tourists in obtaining visas before travelling to Mauritius.
The Ambassador said I am more ambitious and wished that Pakistani tourists to be able to travel to Mauritius and obtain their visas on arrival.