Denmark’s ambassador to Pakistan Jesper Moller Sorensen disclosed on Saturday that the engagement between Pakistan and Denmark expanded remarkably during recent years, as previously the embassy used to deal with mere visa issues while now it had launched many development assistance programmes worth about $50 million.

Giving details of the programmes during an exclusive interview with The Nation, he said that an education programme worth $11 million was launched in Peshawar in collaboration with Unicef for the affected children of Fata, KPK and Blochsitan. “This programme focuses on primary education for affected and displaced children. We’re also working with civil society and NGOs like PILDAT and Human Rights Commission on a number of youth and gender projects,” he added. The ambassador said that a $1 million programme for providing assistance to women in conflict had also been launched. He warned that the water would be a big issue in coming years as the population was mounting while the availability of water would decline. “Pakistan needs to bring efficiency in water use too. We have a world leader company Grundfos in this field and Pakistan can benefit from its expertise,” he added.

He disclosed that a new media support programme was being launched by the embassy in September. “This programme is meant to build the capacity of media as it is imperative for democratic process,” he added. He revealed that the embassy was going to arrange a visit of Pakistani companies to Denmark in September to meet their counterparts working in the field of energy and energy efficiency while a delegation of Danish companies would visit Pakistan in October. He added that the activity was meant for match making to foster collaboration between Pakistani and Danish companies. He said that a delegation of world leader in wind turbines VESTAS had visited Pakistan last month and stayed here for five days. He disclosed that the delegation visited Sindh Corridor, Punjab and other areas to see where the windmills could be installed.

To a question on chances of fruit imports to Denmark, he said that there was a big potential in this field and Pakistan could send mangoes and other fruits to Europe, but it would have to comply with the standards set by European Union.

Answering a question on the issue of terrorism in Pakistan, he said that it was up to Pakistan to decide as to how to deal with the militants. “But Denmark fully appreciate that almost no other nation has suffered as much from terrorism as the people of Pakistan. Pakistan is an important ally in the fight against global terrorism,” he noted. He said that the world had seen the impacts of militancy on Pakistani people and now the Pakistani government and people had decided to take action against all militant groups.

Responding to a question, he said that the total volume of trade between Pakistan and Denmark currently stood at $369 million but more business activity could be generated. “We’re asking Danish companies to come here and see the opportunity in energy, energy efficiency and other fields. But the companies always ask about security. It’s a country with multiple challenges and security concern is the biggest,” he pointed out. He said that more companies could be attracted to Pakistan provided the security situation improved.  He was of the opinion that education to every single individual could change the situation considerably, though it was not answer to all issues being faced by Pakistan. He pointed out that Pakistan allocated hardly two per cent of its GDP for education and research but the federal government had now pledged to raise it to four per cent by the end of 2017.