Ikram Sehgal |
Named for the Alpine resort town in which the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is held, the prevailing misconception is that the Davos is only a rich man’s club that caters to the world’s wealthy and impacts only the rich countries. WEF was founded on the premise that business cannot operate in a vacuum and that the challenges facing humankind need to be addressed by all stakeholders of society. A unique platform for progress on some of the most difficult problems facing the world, more importantly, WEF is truly independent and impartial, not tied or aligned to any special interests or groups.
The PAKISTAN PAVILION established for the first time in WEF’s 48 year history force-multiplied the country’s presence at the high-profile event this year. A private sector initiative by Pakistan’s two leading business houses, PATHFINDER GROUP and MARTIN DOW GROUP, the mini-Pakistan allowed visitors a first-hand sense of a progressive country, quite contrary to the perception prevailing in the world. A walk-in affair, the Pavilion was manned by Pakistani entrepreneurs/professionals specially flown in from Pakistan from financial services, philanthropy, IT, media etc interacted with international investors, experts and officials and even laymen who came to the event.
Ignoring the Davos gathering is no longer an option, a small step towards making the country’s presence felt, the “Pakistan Pavilion” was a giant step to making Pakistan seen in a much more positive light in the world.
The intent behind setting up the PAKISTAN PAVILION was also to showcase Pakistan’s image in a soft and positive frame dispel the negative views about Pakistan. Held in association with the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC), the PAKISTAN PAVILION provided added relevance to attract a huge number of businessmen from various sectors. One must commend the tremendous support of Ms Barbara Möckli-Schneider, Secretary General SACC without whose indefatigable enthusiasm the “Pakistan Pavilion” would not have been possible. As opposed to one particular non-cooperative Govt official because of whose deliberate obfuscation the whole project almost came to grief, Barbara was outstanding representing of all that is good about the Swiss.
Read more: Pakistan’s ambitions for 2018
While how to apply rules and regulations is the prerogative of those made responsible for it, one does not have to be stupid about it. That is why people like Barbara are far more important for the relations between two countries rather than a petty official. Thank you, SACC, thank you Barbara! Pakistan’s private sector was represented at the Pakistan Pavilion by Javed Akhai, CEO Martin Dow Chemicals and myself as Chairman Pathfinder Group. Heads of various companies of the Pathfinder Group were in attendance.
As the country’s largest provider of integrated security solutions and facilities management services, the Group is operational in all major cities and towns of Pakistan. Jawed Akhai, Chairman Martin Dow Group was quite optimistic, “This platform is very important to present the narrative of Pakistan. Many speakers have spoken about the Pakistani perspective and this is what is important, that we put across our point of view.”
The first step, howsoever small, having been taken it is time to look ahead at the future with renewed hope. The Pakistan Pavilion has the potential to make a long lasting impact on how our country is perceived.
Among the participants of the Pakistan Pavilion, the not-for-profit Aman Foundation is a Karachi-based Trust which has developed a complete healthcare eco-system, targeting important healthcare matters. It has been working in building long-term societal resilience by enabling equitable access to quality healthcare and education services. Visitors to the Pavilion were briefed about their philanthropist activities.
Commenting on Aman’s presence at the World Economic Forum Aman Foundation’s Chairman and Co-Founder Fayeeza Naqvi said, “We are here as representatives of Pakistan’s social entrepreneurs to explore innovative, yet pragmatic, solutions to the complex social and economic challenges facing our world today. We hope that our participation will take us closer to our aspiration of transforming lives and empowering the most vulnerable in our communities.”
We were really proud to have Aman Foundation as a philanthropic partner at Davos 2018 because “our visions to enable people to shape their own paths in life are aligned. In this respect, Aman has developed outstanding programs”. Several other eminent Pakistani personalities were present, among them was Dr. Ishrat Husain, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Dr Sania Nishtar, President and Founder Heartfile the many lucrative opportunities that are offered to global investors despite the challenges being faced by Pakistan.
The PAKISTAN PAVILION succeeded in sending out a positive message to the global community. According to the organizers, “Pakistan should be projected somehow and the PAVILION is an experiment in that direction.”
Dr Ishrat was very eloquent about the challenges facing the economy and governance, visitors were impressed with his command of facts and his well-thought recommendations about possible solutions. Speakers included Dr Huma Baqai, Sidra Iqbal, Amer Mahmood, etc Ambassador Mustafa Kamal Kazi. It was great to have Sultana Siddiqui and Duraid Qureshi of Hum TV there. Explaining in detail Pakistan’s economy, foreign policy imperatives, gender empowerment, the law and order situation, etc, they were credible and forthright in their presentations.
The debate on gender empowerment became especially lively with some participants expressing very forceful views about rights of Pakistani women. Many visitors were surprised that Pakistan was one of the few countries where women had significant representation in the Parliament. On both days there was a continuous flow of people from diverse backgrounds coming in to get an insight into Pakistan, this made the Pavilion a success.
Read more: Pakistan Breakfast at Davos 2018
For creating a positive impact about Pakistan in their respective fields, this event was greatly appreciated by PM Abbasi who in his 30 minute speech at the PAKISTAN BREAKFAST on Thursday, Jan 25, 2018, spoke about the present economic and security situation. It is unfortunate that Pakistan suffers from inadequate promotions at the key global level. If the response generated at the Pavilion is an indicator, it has the potential to affect some change in the negative perception that prevails at many places around the globe.
We were really proud to have Aman Foundation as a philanthropic partner at Davos 2018 because “our visions to enable people to shape their own paths in life are aligned. In this respect, Aman has developed outstanding programs”.
The PAKISTAN PAVILION succeeded in sending out a positive message to the global community. According to the organizers, “Pakistan should be projected somehow and the PAVILION is an experiment in that direction.” The first step, howsoever small, having been taken it is time to look ahead at the future with renewed hope. The Pakistan Pavilion has the potential to make a long lasting impact on how our country is perceived.
Among other things, this will also require wider publicity of the event. Promoting Pakistan’s cause will not be a very easy task particularly because misconceptions that abound, therefore it is necessary for other entrepreneurs of note from Pakistan to come forward and be part of the Davos gathering and promote Pakistan, this is the time for them to step forward and be counted. Ignoring the Davos gathering is no longer an option, a small step towards making the country’s presence felt, the “Pakistan Pavilion” was a giant step to making Pakistan seen in a much more positive light in the world.
Ikram Sehgal, author of “Escape from Oblivion”, is Pakistani defence analyst and security expert. He is a regular contributor of articles in newspapers that include: The News and the Urdu daily Jang. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.