Karachi, May 16, 2012 (PPI-OT): Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s High-level Delegation has proceeded to USA headed by President Mian Abrar Ahmad and Younus Muhammad Bashir has assumed the charge of Acting President KCCI.
“We want Pakistanis living in USA to lobby for Pakistan, to get trade access to US Markets, by encouraging US decision makers at the highest level to have a Free Trade Agreement between USA and Pakistan.” These were the words of Mian Abrar Ahmad, President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), while speaking at the “Meet-and-Greet” arranged at a local Houston Restaurant by the host committee in Houston Texas of KCCI High Level Delegation to USA, only hours after landing at the Bush Inter-Continental Airport.
Office Bearers of the Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), the host of KCCI delegation in Houston Texas, received the business mission at the airport. They included President HKSCA Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator for Delegation Matloob Khan, and other members of the host committee.
Mian Abrar Ahmad is being accompanied by KCCI’s Members of Managing Committee, including Chairman of Diplomatic Affairs Sub-Committee Asif Nisar; Chairman of Health, Education, and CSR Sub-Committee Chaudhary Ansar Jawed; Chairman Trade Development of Exports and Halal Food Sheikh Muhammad Tehseen; Chairman banking and Insurance Sub-Committee Azhar Wasim Puri; Chairman of WTO, Intellectual Property Right Sub-Committee Naeem Ahmed; and Senior Vice Chairman of Fairs, Exhibitions, and Trade Delegation Sub-Committee Rizwan Abdul Razzak Diwan.
President HKSCA Muhammad Saeed Sheikh welcomed the delegation to Houston, and informed that a productive schedule has been chalked out for the delegation, which will culminate on the last day Wednesday May 15th with the historic signing by the three entities of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by KCCI, HKSCA, and the most prestigious social, economic, and commerce body the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). This MoU will become the platform on which solid business and trade relations will be established between the two vital economies of the world, namely Houston and Karachi.
Mr. Sheikh exclaimed: “Better bi-lateral trade relations between Karachi and Houston are in fact in the national interest of USA, during these hard economic times.”
Notable personalities of the Houston Community are part of the Host Committee of the delegation, including Matloob Khan, Mariam Issa, Rafique Jangdah, Zaki Mirza, Zafar Khan, Abdur Rauf Khan, and ILyas Choudry. Also present on the occasion were Commercial Attaché of Government of Pakistan in Houston Syed Fawad Shah; Members Board of Directors of HKSCA famous CPA Haroon Shaikh, Legal Counsel Attorney Syed Neiyyar Izfar, former President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA Pervez Khan Swati, and Executive Director of the Hashoo Foundation USA Mrs. Cristal Montanez Baylor.
Members of the Host Committee handed out an especially prepared folder to each delegate of KCCI that had the welcome message from HKSCA, itinerary of three days trip, information about the local Pakistani Community and Consulate of Pakistan in Houston, and information about the role of important trade and other relevant organizations of Houston.
Those present shared their sentiments and concerns about Pakistan and the negative news that the overseas Pakistanis get every day through the independent and open media of Pakistan that talks about energy crisis, corruption, poverty, lack of proper infrastructure, personal and intellectual security, and so on.
Mian Abrar Ahmad, President of KCCI, said that every country has their own issues and there are serious issues in Pakistan. But despite those issues, Pakistanis are moving forward resiliently and overcoming all the challenges.
He added: “There is a clear difference between perception and reality. The actuality is that Pakistan is thriving well in these global difficult economic times, and we definitely not need any aid from anybody including USA: What we need is trade and in fact access to trade. Once given equal footing, you will see how Pakistan will excel even more positively in everything”
Other members of the delegation added that there are serious issues related to drug lords and war between them in Mexico and border of USA, but no general travel advisory of the whole of Mexico is issued, while anything if it happens in some part of Pakistan, usually means a blanket travel advisory issued by the Government of USA for the whole of Pakistan, which is not appropriate.
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) delegation under the leadership of President Mian Abrar Ahmad spent their first full day of activities during their tour of Houston, Texas, USA, at the end of which on Thursday, May 17th morning, the delegation will travel to capitol city of the State of Texas Austin.
On May 14th, 2012, the KCCI delegation went to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Centre in Clear Lake City near Houston. They looked at the various displays and extensive briefing at the Centre, to learn how the scientific programs of this agency of the Government of USA have evolved since 1958, one year before KCCI was formed in 1959.
Later on in the evening, the delegation attended a special dinner, arranged in their honour by the Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Honourable Muhammad Aqil Nadeem. Large number of American and Pakistani-Americans of diverse background were in attendance, including prominent media, social, entrepreneurial, and professional personalities.
They included City of Houston Councilperson Honourable Mike Laster representing Mayor Annise Parker; President of Sister Cities of Houston Mrs. Ellen Goldberg, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, General Secretary of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) Mian Nazir, Past President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) Pervez Khan Swati, Office Bearers of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) Jamil Daudi and Mrs. Noorunisa, and many more.
Emcee of the evening was Commercial Attaché in Houston of the Government of Pakistan Syed Fawad Shah. In his welcome President of the Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), Muhammad Saeed Sheikh the host of KCCI delegation in Houston Texas, said that this historic trip of KCCI on the long run is going to open doors of trade and business between Houston and Karachi, which will benefit hundreds and thousands of citizens of both these dynamic cities.
“This trip of KCCI constitutes the fulfillment of one of the salient features of HKSCA Charter, that is to foster and establish trade relations between business entities of Houston and Karachi,” added Mr. Sheikh.
Amidst applause, Mr. Sheikh announced that HKSCA for spearheading the Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, has received the prestigious Innovative Humanitarian Award from the Sisters Cities International, which s a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between United States and international communities. Under this, more than 2,000 cities, states and counties are partnered in 136 countries around the world; as such for Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) to get this prestigious award among such a huge bunch of cities, is indeed testimony of expatriates Pakistanis, in enhancing the name of Pakistan through their philanthropic endeavour.
Gareth Morgans from the Office of Honourable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is the Founding Co-Chair of Congressional Pakistani Caucus, and Sam merchant from the Office of Honourable Congressman AL Green, gave special certificates of recognition to President of KCCI Mian Abrar Ahmad, for the positive role and efforts of KCCI in fostering commerce relations between USA and Pakistan.
In his most passionate and forceful speech, President of KCCI Mian Abrar Ahmad said: “We in Pakistan do not need any aid from anyone including USA. What we need is access to trade, especially USA. Pakistan enjoys easy access to three important blocks of the world.
Pakistan is the Gateway to Iran and Turkey; then secondly to the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; and third block being the Central Asian Countries.
These blocks are not just for Pakistan to enjoy, but for all of our trusted partners. Recently the decade’s long atmosphere of animosity with India has changed due to people to people trade between Pakistani and Indian businesses, that have lead to now general public’s stake in each others’ countries, which means people and commerce now dictates the relations between Pakistan and India, which are most cordial because of this open trade. Similarly if USA opens up and gives proper access to Pakistani businesses, in turn Pakistan not only provides her own market for American goods, but is the gateway that USA businesses can use to access so many lucrative markets.
This delegation will be meeting policy and law makers in Washington DC, and we will stress upon the US Congresspersons’ and decision makers at the State Department that in the next few months when the Bilateral Investment Treat (BIT) will be signed between USA and Pakistan; that should not be the end; in fact that should be followed by signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as without FTA, BIT is not useful.
There should be no discrimination between developed, developing, under developed, and least developed countries as far as trade is concerned. Field should be open for all. Despite energy crisis resulting in only eight hours of productive work as compared to 24 hours in many countries of the world; foreign imported terrorism into Pakistan; war on terror in Afghanistan; despite all these predicaments, Pakistanis have shown resilience and are competing well with China and India.
What if we have stable Pakistan that will even contribute more towards the financial uplifting the world economy needs at the moment in these times of fiscal crisis. KCCI has the aim that in the next few years, we are going to increase the trade of Pakistan from $25 million to over $200 million per year and significantly increase it per year here-after. One way towards a stable Pakistan is to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan in making her own energy policy, which the world should be rest assured will be a mature policy.
At present Pakistan is not allowed to use nuclear energy while France produces 80% through nuclear technology; many countries of the world utilize coal to produce energy, while Pakistan is discouraged to use her own second largest in the world reserves of coal to make energy, and then Pakistan cannot get access to gas, since pipeline is not being allowed to come via Iran.
BIT followed by FTA with USA will do the necessary thing of revamping the relationships between USA and Pakistan, which are in as much of American interest as they are for Pakistan.”
In the concluding speech, Consul General of Pakistan in Houston Honourable Muhammad Aqil Nadeem expressed his good wishes for a successful trip of KCCI to USA; and stressed that the State of Texas itself is the largest business partner of Pakistan, and provides excellent opportunities in the fields of Renewable and Clean Energies like Wind Energy; and IT. He said the next delegation to the State of Texas and USA of KCCI should also include people from Energy and IT sectors.
In the end, mementos were exchanged between KCCI and HKSCA, plus traditional Ajraks and Caps (Topis) of the Province of Sindh Pakistan were given by KCCI delegation members to some of the notables present on the occasion.
For more information, contact:
M. Shafiq Baig
Public Relations Officer
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Tel: +9221 9921 8001 -09
Fax: +9221 9921 8010
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