The CPBC hosted a luncheon on October 7, 2015, to welcome His Excellency Tariq Azim Khan, High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada, just days after his arrival to take up his new post. Held at Limelite Café just north of Toronto, the event was attended by prominent business and community leaders, as well as respected dignitaries such as Consul-General of Pakistan in Toronto Asghar Ali Golo, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, MPP Dr. Shafiq Qaadri and Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan to Canada, Muhammad Saleem.
Samir Dossal, President of Canada-Pakistan Business Council, not only introduced each guest personally to the newly appointed High Commissioner but also introduced the CPBC to Pakistan’s top diplomat in Canada.
As way to apprise Mr. Khan of the mission and milestones of the 32-year-old Canada-founded business organization, Mr. Dossal described the CPBC as promoting trade between Canada, Pakistan and beyond and spoke briefly about various successful and promising initiatives launched in recent years, including those in the energy and education sectors where several synergies have been established in the past year. There was special mention of the unique collaborative working relationship the CPBC has with the Pakistan Consulate in Toronto and the exemplary outreach of Mr. Golo. Major recent events were also highlighted, including the trade delegation comprising CPBC members and government officials that traveled to Pakistan to meet Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab, and the CPBC Annual Gala that was attended by Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, who acknowledged the extraordinary contributions of the Pakistani community to the province and who showed a keen interest in visiting Pakistan in the coming year.
Following the introductions, His Excellency Mr. Tariq Azim Khan addressed the intimate gathering. He conveyed regrets on behalf of Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif for being unable to attend the 2015 Gala as originally planned. He further announced that Chief Minister is keen to visit Canada in the near future.
The High Commissioner stressed the priority of the Pakistani Mission is to strengthen the Canada-Pakistan relationship. Part of that involves creating a more positive image of Pakistan. Mr. Khan spoke in detail about the importance of working together as a community to promote Pakistan and noted that while news headlines usually focus on Pakistan’s struggles, stories of success and progress rarely get the attention they deserve. Pakistan is more than “men with guns,” said Mr. Khan, and then cited the example of the Pakistani student who made the Guinness Book of World Records by earning 23 ‘A’ grades in his A-Level exams. Of course, actively developing trade opportunities is also a key element in improving bilateral relations, and the High Commissioner spoke to that too. The Government of Pakistan, he said, would be happy to facilitate business opportunities between the two countries and bear the cost of hosting potential Canadian investors to Pakistan. He spoke about the benefit of a consistent economic policy in Pakistan to create a lucrative environment for international investment and trade.
He acknowledged the excellent work by CPBC and assured his complete support and that of the Government of Pakistan. Being a proactive diplomat it is expected to see him frequently in Toronto.