Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Jesper Moller Sorensen, the Danish ambassador, is a career diplomat with a special interest in the region. Prior to applying for his current assignment, he served as deputy ambassador in Afghanistan. In an exclusive interview with our Ambassador Sorensen talks about areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Denmark and future plans.
Q. How do you place Pakistan in a global context today and what areas of cooperation do you want to focus on?
A. No doubt Pakistan is an extremely important country and so the region where it is located. Denmark wants to see Pakistan as a stable country because anything that happens here has an impact in other parts of the world.
The areas of cooperation are diverse but our special focus is on strengthening democracy in Pakistan and promoting human rights of citizens, which include access to education and basic health services, gender equality etc. Denmark has been running a three-year development assistance programme in Pakistan since 2010. We have just launched a $50 million programme for the next three years. The financial portfolio of the newly launched programme is almost double that of the previous one.
Q. What are the specific projects which Denmark has carried out in Pakistan under the assistance programme?
A. I would start with the projects on promotion of democratic norms. We are also trying to assist in alleviating the security situation and have a stabilization programme for the region.
One of the projects is a counter IED project which we run in collaboration with UK Support Programme. Besides, there is an exchange programme between the National Defence University, Islamabad and similar organisations based in Denmark.
Coming to the social and development sector, our main focus is on primary education for boys and girls in KP, Balochistan and FATA. This support goes through UNICEF, where we are one of several donors.
Denmark also contributes to the Multi Donor Trust Fund which is used to execute projects related to health, infrastructure etc. also in the conflict-affected areas. Denmark also provides support for 34 shelter homes for women in Punjab. The list of projects is exhaustive though I have mentioned a few.
Q. How do you plan to raise the volume of trade been Denmark and Pakistan?
A. No doubt the volume of mutual trade could be higher and it is also my goal to increase our trade in the next two to three years.
The good news is that we have just opened a commercial section at the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. We will now be in a better position to assist Danish businesses who decide to come here. I also believe we have a huge potential in the clever and good Pakistanis living in Denmark. We are approaching them to get their help in promoting business ties between the two countries.
Danish companies are very good in alternate energy; 45 per cent of the wind turbines produced in the world are manufactured in Denmark. Two other important sectors where Pakistan can benefit from Danish experience are agriculture and dairy farming. Only one percent of Denmark’s population is involved in agriculture but the share of agriculture and dairy products in Denmark’s exports is more than 20 per cent. On the contrary, Pakistan is the 5th largest milk-producing country in the world but only 5 per cent of the milk it produces is processed.
Courtesy The NEWS