Ambassador Abbas began by noting that bilateral relations were established in 1973 under Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. He said that his country has a plan to double trade to $100 million a year by expanding transportation linkages and agricultural cooperation. His Excellency also strongly believes that people-to-people ties must urgently be improved, especially in the educational sphere, which he returns to later on in his interview.
He was asked about how certain countries are weaponizing the media against Ethiopia. Ambassador Abbas affirmed that the situation in Addis Ababa is peaceful. According to him, there aren’t any chaos, turmoil, or disturbances. His advice is that Ethiopian media must counteract foreign propaganda, which he says is a regular part of any war. They need parallel strategies for conveying their messages. Only the sons and daughters of the soil can do this since foreigners’ understanding will always be limited.
Ambassador’s major suggestions
Ambassador Abbas suggested that Ethiopian media communicate with the international community in languages that their targeted audience can understand. The perspectives of the local population can be conveyed through these means in order to reverse the presently one-sided media dynamics. He then once again reminded his interlocutor that the responsibility for this falls upon the Ethiopian media, but he expressed confidence that they’ll succeed.
In response to a question about Horn of Africa affairs, His Excellency described this region as one of the world’s most fragile. It was for that reason, however, that he emphasized the historical importance of the agreement to normalize relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ambassador Abbas believes that promoting further people-to-people ties throughout the region will go a long way towards sustainably ensuring long-term stability.
Building upon the topic of people-to-people ties, which remains a mainstay of the interview, Ambassador Abbas spoke very highly about Ethiopia’s religious harmony and heritage. He expressed hope that more Pakistanis will visit the country’s religious sites connected with the refuge that Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) first followers received in Ancient Ethiopia. This will become feasible upon the improvement of transport linkages between the two countries such as the resumption of direct flights.
Pakistani-Ethiopian agricultural scientific-technological cooperation
Ambassador Abbas then expended plenty of time explaining the benefits inherent to closer Pakistani-Ethiopian agricultural scientific-technological cooperation. He believes that his host country can learn from his homeland in all this respect. His Excellency invited its experts to visit Pakistan in order to explore which technologies are best suited for Ethiopia. The Ambassador said that that they’re more competitive than European, Indian, and even Chinese counterparts and can be transferred right away.
On the subject of transferring experiences and capabilities, he revealed that Pakistan invited young Ethiopian civil servants for training. His country also extended a similar invitation to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance to send two people for a high-quality banking and finance course in Pakistan. Back in May, Ambassador Abbas said that the Karachi Down Syndrome Society also reached an agreement to send doctors to Ethiopia to treat people with that disease as well as to educate and train local doctors.
Youth unemployment is a problem that afflicts all developing nations, and it’s here where Ambassador Abbas said that everyone can learn from China’s successes. Pakistan’s Ehsaas Programme is modeled off of the Chinese experience. With this in mind, His Excellency made an offer on air for Ethiopia to send poverty alleviation experts, small business promotion organizations, and banks to his country to learn from that initiative. He hopes that they’ll take up his offer.
In closing, Ambassador Abbas said that Pakistan has complete solidarity with Ethiopia and fully supports its government. He expressed admiration for the Ethiopian people’s resilience and said that he expects them to show their mettle to the international community. His Excellency sincerely hopes that their country’s problems will soon be resolved. He’s sure that this will happen and that bilateral ties will continue to expand.
What is the future of Pakistani-Ethiopian ties?
From the above, it can be seen that Pakistani-Ethiopian ties have a solid foundation in terms of the mutual trust that each government has in the other but that there are plenty of opportunities to take them much further. Agricultural cooperation and experience-sharing in poverty alleviation represent the most promising avenues for this since both countries are in very similar situations. They’re also two of China’s top partners anywhere in the world so it’s natural for them to work more closely together.
The comprehensive expansion of Pakistani-Ethiopian relations would be an excellent example of South-South cooperation. These two countries can build upon the infrastructural and other investments in their economies from their shared Chinese partner in order to add important momentum to their future initiatives. It’s of the highest importance though that transportation linkages are improved right away through the resumption of direct flights in order to facilitate their people-to-people ties.
Upon that happening, which Ambassador Abbas said several times during the interview is one of his top priorities, then everything else will likely fall into place shortly thereafter. Pakistan is China’s top Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) partner in the world while Ethiopia is among its top ones in Africa. With this in mind, the former can share its experiences with integrating into this global connectivity network in order to influence the latter’s creative application of these lessons to its own conditions.
Such an outcome would be mutually beneficial. Pakistan considers Ethiopia to be one of the centerpieces of its Engage Africa initiative while Ethiopia can come to rely on Pakistan as a trusted all-weather partner in the Global South. These two states have similar structures and developmental experiences which make them perfect partners of one another. Hopefully, their relations will expand exactly as Ambassador Abbas envisions and Pakistani-Ethiopian ties become an example for all.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, radio host, and regular contributor to several online outlets. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.