KARACHI - As Australia is famous for its mining sector with a lot of the mining experts, the country can help Pakistan explore Thar coal and generate power from the vast resource, the Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Tim George, said on Monday.
“We can play an important role in producing energy from the Thar coal project if we are given a chance,” he added, while addressing a press conference at a hotel to disclose the details of the ‘Australia Day in Spring 2012’ celebrations.
The annual celebration is being celebrated in Sindh to show Australia’s strong relationship with Pakistan, and particularly with the people of Sindh. Answering a question by journalists on NATO supply line, George said the supply must be opened and the other matters could be resolved through negotiations.
“Though the law and order situation in Karachi is a major challenge for government of Pakistan, I enjoy every visit to Karachi as it is a dynamic city and commercial hub of country and I love the weather here,” he said. “During my three years in Pakistan, I have particularly enjoyed my visits to Karachi. It is a diverse and colourful city with a rich history and heritage.”
Answering a question when the Australian cricket team will visit Pakistan, George said that he is not in a position to say when the team will visit Pakistan, but he personally believes that the Australian team must visit Pakistan.
George, who has been the Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan since June 2010, has said that by the Australian spring celebration, he has a good opportunity to say farewell to good colleagues and friends in Karachi as he will depart Pakistan in just over a month.
In addition, Australia’s Honorary Consul in Karachi, Bazl Khan, will retire his post later this year.
“I would also like to pay special tribute to Khan and his wife, Judy, who have played a great role as Australia’s representatives here for the past 14 years. His dedication and commitment to the role have been exemplary and he will be missed when he retires,” he said.
SUNFLOWER DIPLOMACY: Two farmers from a remote village of monsoon flood-hit district of Badin, Shahida Perveen and Ashfaq Hussain Khaskheli, presented boutiques of sunflower they had grown on their field after the flood, for which Australia had provided seeds for the uplift of the flood-hit areas of Sindh.
Last year in November, when the province of Sindh was in the throes of a catastrophic flood similar – but fortunately not as devastating – as the previous year, President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari had invited George to a meeting at the Bilawal House in Karachi. Zardari had a special request for Australia that could it find a way to send sunflower seeds to Sindhi farmers to provide a cash crop to help them recover from the second major flood within two years. As a quick growing crop, sunflowers could provide farmers with a cash boost early in their recovery period in order to overcome the effects of the flooding of their lands.
Time was of the essence with the harvest period of December, only one month later, identified as the ideal planting time.
George conveyed this message to Australia’s Development Agency AusAID and within four weeks more than four tonnes of sunflower seeds were on their way to the port of Karachi. AusAID – working closely with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) – had lent a helping hand to Sindhi farmers.
“Today, we celebrate the link between Australian and Pakistani farmers as ‘Sunflower Diplomacy’, which reflects the close and enduring ties between Australia and Pakistan in many fields,” said George. “Australia does not just provide development assistance, but actively works to promote trade in agricultural products, expertise and services too.”
Australia exports wheat, pulses and other grains to Pakistan, and there is the trade is growing in dairy cattle and livestock. In addition, Australia’s Agricultural Sector Linkages Program (ASLP) promotes exchanges in research and development expertise in the mango, citrus and dairy sectors between Australia and Pakistan.
With Sunflower Diplomacy leading the way, Australia and Pakistan – which share similar climactic conditions and soils – can share a great deal of experience and knowledge in the vital area of agriculture to create a more food secure world.
SPRING CELEBRATIONS: Later in the evening, hundreds of guests from Karachi’s business and political elite gathered to enjoy the music by a talented trio of musicians who were flown all the way from Australia especially for the occasion.
Fiddlers Feast – featuring Marcus Holden (Master of the Golden Fiddle), Andrew Clermont and Liz Frencham – a brilliant combo playing lively and energetic music from Australia.
The reception also featured a moving photographic exhibition promoting Australia’s development assistance to Pakistan.
The development assistance totals about US$100 million per year, making Australia one of the largest donors to Pakistan.
The exhibition also highlighted the major role played by Australia in helping the province of Sindh recover from the 2010 and 2011 floods.
“This major event reflects the importance that Australia places on its strong and enduring partnership with Pakistan,” said George. “Australia wants to engage positively and cooperatively with Sindh not only in development terms, but as a partner in trade and investment too.
“We recognise the importance of Karachi as the gateway to Pakistan, a bustling and dynamic financial, commercial and trading hub. We see great potential to increase the linkages between our two countries.
“A senior executive from the Australian Trade Commission (AusTrade), David Landers, will also attend the reception. He is here in Pakistan to discuss business opportunities with Pakistani business leaders to increase the two way flow of trade and investment between our two countries,” the diplomat added.
George also pointed out that the reception will feature a display of Australian products which are available in the Pakistan market.
“Australia presents an excellent market for Pakistani exporters,” said George. “Many people do not realise that Australia is now the 13th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.6 trillion and a global trading nation with two-way trade in excess of US$550 billion.”
“We will use the opportunity to launch a new publication called ‘Endeavours of Excellence’, which traces 60 years of Australian education scholarships many which have been awarded to students from Pakistan. We have invited members of the Australian alumni in Pakistan to help us celebrate the event, George said.
The Australian high commissioner also pointed to the growing educational ties between Australia and Pakistan. “We are the third largest provider of quality tertiary education after the US and UK, with some 5,000 Pakistani students studying in Australia at present.”
“But most of all, I am very pleased to have Fiddlers Feast, representing Australia’s rich cultural and musical traditions, here in Pakistan to join with us. I am sure that their excellent musicianship, and zany sense of fun, will delight and entertain our guests.”
Fiddlers Feast are a name synonymous with the Australian fiddling and folk scene.
Andrew and Marcus are not only founding members of Fiddlers Feast (a group whose performances has taken them all over the globe) but also are directors of the Golden Fiddle Awards, an annual event that recognises the depth of talent in the music scene Down Under.
Andrew divides his time between travelling Europe and Australia performing with groups such as Totally Gorgeous and Blue Guru, both hits at major festivals both at home and overseas. His legendary Tamworth Supper Club has for many years brought the very best in the diverse wealth of talent drawn from the annual Country Music Festival to delight audiences young and old.
Marcus wears as many hats as he can. Recording engineer; musical director and producer; string arranger and composer; founding member of Mic Conway’s National Junk Band; he occasionally appears in front of the odd symphony orchestra (dressed in a kilt) in strange places such as New York’s Lincoln Centre or in a more relaxed attire presenting research on weird resonator violins.
Liz’s latest project has seen her collaborate with well-known singer/songwriter diplomat Fred Smith whose latest CD Dust Of Uruzgan has received much critical acclaim in 2012. As a singer/song-writer/bass player Liz also has produced four solo CDs and three as long time member of Celtic Group JigZag.
With many recording and performance credits to all their names, this unique trio brings musicality, humour and great entertainment to their ever burgeoning list of credits. Not only do they perform with skill but their joy of performing together is highly infectious.