Yesterday (11 Dec. 2013), I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen, the Danish ambassador to Pakistan. This meeting was arranged to share mutual interests and initiatives for promoting bilateral relations between Denmark and Pakistan both at the institutional and people levels. In a meeting that lasted just over 30 minutes, Mr. Sorensen left an impression of being “A Man on the Mission.” Apart from his briefing about the Danish Embassy in Pakistan’s initiatives since his appointment to the current position, I had also been following his statements and interviews in the Pakistani media. Mr. Sorensen has been actively communicating with all the stakeholders about his intentions to strengthen bilateral trade links and enhance the visibility of Danish leadership in the areas of processing dairy products, medicine (e.g., for Diabetes), and renewable energy. During our meeting, the Ambassador shared with us some of the strategic moves he has made to identify the potential areas of investment in Pakistan and to make Danish business community aware of them. For example, he has recently opened a bilateral trade section in the Danish embassy in Pakistan. I think its a much needed and timely initiative because a dedicated office of commercial advisor can provide the businesses and people from both countries with dedicated support and services for establishing new business ventures and collaborations. Now the ambassador is on another mission, convincing danish businesses to seriously consider the opportunities that Pakistan can present for investment and business initiatives. During our meeting, he said that after acquainting himself with business circles in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, he found Pakistani business community eager to develop trade relations with Denmark but investment constraints hampered their desires. On the other hand, the Danish businesses are rightfully concerned about the security situation. For that purpose, he chose to speak with the Danish business people of Pakistani heritage. Through that seminar which was organised just after our meeting with the ambassador, he planned to motivate them to seriously consider to take advantage of the business and investment opportunities that Pakistan can offer and also set some examples for addressing some of the concerns of the general Danish business community. I truly wish him a very good luck as he has started a very challenging mission but I’m sure he is quite committed and determined to work tirelessly to achieve his goals
On our side, we purported to share with him our plans and initiatives to study the socio-economic consequences of energy crisis in Pakistan and to promote Denmark as a source of knowledge and technological solutions for addressing the Pakistani energy crisis in sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We briefed Mr. Sorensen about Green Pearls, a think tank that I have co-founded, a research project that Dr. Irina Shklovski and other colleagues have recently proposed for funding, and a strategic research initiative called Energy Future (EF) at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The ambassador showed great interest in our initiatives and assured us his support and co-operation for putting us in touch with the relevant stakeholders.
I would like to end this blog by sharing another intriguing thought of mine – our main stimulus for founding the Green Pearls and Mr. Sorensen’s intention of helping Pakistan to address its energy crisis may also have one key common ground (albeit coincidently) – I believe that the energy crisis in Pakistan is contributing to the increasing religious extremism in Pakistan as the energy crisis has been causing acute economic problems that usually lead to poverty and destitution. That means more and more parents are unable to afford regular school education for their children and opt for madressah where the children are more likely to be radicalised at best and become terrorist at worst. These terrorists cause more destruction of already broken energy generation and distribution infrastructure of Pakistan. I dearly hope that our concerted efforts in making Pakistan self reliant, help break this vicious circle and give way to a peaceful, prosperous, energy efficient, and sustainable Pakistan.