The Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Neil Hawkins reflects on relations with Pakistan on Australia Day.
In his Australia Day messages, he said:
“Australia Day (today) is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the relationship between our two great countries.
In my seven months travelling around Pakistan, I’ve learned more about Australian cricketers than I did while in Australia! But it has also allowed me to experience the depth of talent – of both men and women – that exists here in Pakistan.
My job is all about people.
I’ve come to appreciate the amazing diversity across the many communities in Pakistan.
But this diversity comes with warmth and generosity that is unique to this country.
We have a long history together.
Australia was one of the first countries to formally recognise the new nation of Pakistan in 1947. Now more than 100,000 persons of Pakistani origin call Australia home and make a valuable contribution to our multicultural and vibrant society.
And we’re delighted that many Pakistani students choose to study in Australia’s high-quality educational institutions in a safe, supportive and tolerant environment.
Australians are known as caring and practical people, and tackling climate change is a shared priority for our two countries.
Following the devastating floods, Australia committed A$5.2 million through the UN to help Pakistanis in need.
I was humbled to meet some of these villagers near Sehwan, Sindh recently. Australia drew on our own experiences of devastating fires, to help efforts to tackle forest fires in Balochistan in 2022.
Moreover, our agricultural scientists are also cooperating to address food and water security issues.
I’m often asked what the highlight of my stay has been so far.
I could mention the awesome scenery around Skardu, hiking near Khaplu or in the Margallas, visiting the old town of Lahore, the Mohatta Palace in Karachi, or the lovely Peshawar Museum, or eating Sajji at Lehri’s in Quetta.
For the most memorable, I would probably have to come back to cricket.
True, it was a privilege and thrill to meet the Pakistani men’s cricket team captained by Babar Azam and the women’s cricket team captained by Bismah Maroof – both impressive people as well as outstanding cricketers.
Promoting gender equality is a central pillar of our foreign policy.
So I don’t think I will forget the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of the Girls’ Under-19 cricket team. Stars in the making which augurs well for Pakistan’s future.
As we mark another anniversary of nationhood in Australia, we also mark another year of shared experience and friendship with Pakistan – 75 years young and going strong.