ISLAMABAD-Romania is the largest Balkan country and it has a strongly globalized and integrated economy. Romania is a staunch supporter of regional countries heading towards European integration. In Romanian History the Great Union of 1918 is the most historic day and is also known as Romanian National Day . On 1 December, Great Union Day celebrates the union of Romanian territories. This year in 2018 on 1st of December, Romania is going to celebrate the Centennial of the Great Union. To mark this glorious day the ambassador Nicolae Goia hosted a grand reception at a local hotel in Islamabad. Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was the chief guest while Major Gen Abid Rafique also graced the occasion as a special guest. The event commenced with the national anthem of Romania, European Union and Pakistan which was followed by a cake cutting ceremony.  People from various walks of life including ambassadors, politicians, government officials, and business community representatives also attended the event. The ambassador along with his wife warmly welcomed all the guests at the entrance of the hall. People exchanged views on various issues but the main topic of discussion among the participants was the PTI Government’s ‘First 100 Days’ ceremony held in Islamabad where PM Imran khan presented the 100 days performance of the Government and shared some future plans. The participant admired the Finance Minister Asad Umar’s remarks of using cricket analogy to explain Pakistan’s economy. He said, “Captain has won the toss and has decided to bat. I have been sent as an opener, the wicket is green top and there are clouds above the sky. There is constant bounce and the ball is swinging too.” Participants hoped that the government’s future plan would be in the best interest of Pakistan. I believe there is only one solution to put the Pakistani economy back on the track and that is to increase the exports of Pakistan and to improve the export we have to make few decisions, first is to bring Pakistan in the list of ease of doing business and improve its ranking from 136 to 50 top world countries in the next two or three years which should be the top agenda of  Imran khan and Asad Umer. Secondly, to enhance the export we should focus on reducing the cost of doing business and for that we have to focus on hydel power for the future. Finally the industrial zone of CPEC must be given attention on priority as it would be operated by Chinese companies which in result will improve exports of Pakistan. One participant was interested to know about the outcome of the googly of Imran khan which was mentioned by Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his speech at Kartarpur Corridor inauguration ceremony. Senator Wasim Shahzad and the office bearer of ICCI Ahmed Hassan Mughal, Rafat Farid and Iftikhar Sethi indulged in a very deep discussion in a lively mood. The presence of General Abid Rafique reflects the deep rooted strategic defence cooperation between the two countries. He is a man of intellect and his efforts to promote peace are magnificent. He recently got appointed as the first colonel commandant of SSG. As the head of the special security division he fully protected the projects under CPEC and he would always be remembered as a man who brought security in the minds of Chinese investors in Pakistan.

Romanians are extremely friendly, warm and resilient people.  All the ambassadors who came to serve in Pakistan made a special place in the hearts of Pakistani people by these characteristics. After meeting Nicolae Goia this has become more evident. He is a dynamic, sociable and visionary man. He is working hard to enhance the ties between Pakistan and Romania. In his speech, he highlighted Pakistan and Romania’s bilateral relations, he said that Pakistan is an important partner for Romania in the South Asian region and he greatly acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, militancy and radical extremism. He hoped that these endeavours will continue to be an important part of the international war on terror. In spite of these challenges, which obviously affected the advancement of many economic projects, he said that he welcomes the positive dynamics of the Pakistani economy, namely the steady and robust economic growth, as well the opportunities created for the foreign companies interested in doing business in Pakistan. 

He further said that he is eager to work with the new cabinet of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, for taking forward the bilateral agenda, as well as the cooperation within the EU-Pakistan framework and in multilateral formats, especially in the UN.

He also enlightened the audience about ‘The Centennial of the Great Union Day’. He said that the end of the First World War and the armistice concluded in 1918, it represents a crucial moment in the history of mankind causing deep changes both in international relations, and at socio-cultural level. 100 years after the Great Union he said that Romania reaffirms its attachment to the principles of international law, promotion of mutual respect and good understanding, to dialogue and to multiculturalism, values that are the basis of its international profile and external action. “We, Romania and Europe will always remember that 1.1 million soldiers from the subcontinent fought courageously in different battle fields of WWI and 60,000 of them, mostly from Pakistani Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa had paid the ultimate price in defending the ideals of peace, freedom, liberty, dignity, democracy and fundamental human rights.

Today we pay tribute and honour them as much as we honour our heroes! Today, Romania is a security provider and enjoys unprecedented development, security and welfare. The key word of the Romanian Centennial is union and with this call to unity we will very soon take over our first ever mandate at the Presidency of the EU Council”. The motto of our Presidency he said is the cohesion, a common European value, reflecting the imperious need for unity and cooperation among the EU Member States, as well as the need for more economic, social and territorial cohesion as enshrined in the EU Treaties. As an incoming Presidency at the helm of the European Union, we will prove our capacity to build consensus and find efficient and viable solutions for our common European future.

Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui is a very humble man; he is committed to bring in effectiveness in the initiatives range from policy interventions to people development.

He made a short speech without any paper provided by the foreign office which means that he was not prepared for sharing his views but in his short remarks he appreciated Pakistan’s cordial and warm relations with Romania. He said that the Government of Pakistan is eager to explore more possibilities of cooperation especially the field of IT, telecommunications.

Pakistan and Romania are co-operating in various sectors. In Pakistan with Romanian assistance a number of projects were set up such as an oil refinery in Karachi and two cement plants in Lasbella and Kohat were jointly established to boost the existing trade volume but there is a dire need to collaborate in  other areas of economic cooperation like energy, IT, pharmaceutical and engineering etc.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.