Pakistan’s signature event is the traditional Pakistan Breakfast hosted jointly by Pathfinder Group and Dow Martin Group. Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the Chief Guest at the event being held since 2002. Pakistan faces a serious crisis of image internationally, the Pakistan Breakfast has been successful in dispelling the negative perception before a very precocious audience.
PM Abbasi’s performance was above par, he was on the dot when he said, “There are two Pakistans, one is on the CNN and the other is the reality” reflecting that at times the international media has shown bias in very quickly disseminating any news that paints Pakistan is a negative manner. The PM commented that the huge gap between perception and reality was bridged to a large extent by forums such as the Pakistan Breakfast. The guests at the event meet with senior Pakistan leaders in every walk of life to exchange views with a world audience in a very candid manner.
Numbering at least 250 braving the early morning cold at what has now become the traditional venue, the Steigenberger Belvedere, people from at least 35 nations were in attendance. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto’s presence, made even better was graciously acknowledged by PM Abbasi. At Breakfast 2018, democracy was the winner in the eyes of those who attended the function.
Meant to project a Pakistani’s soft and positive image, the Pakistan Breakfast is an attractive venue for investment. Questions were raised in 2017 about the direction in which Pakistan was heading as a democratic entity, this time around the event progressed smoothly in a totally non-controversial manner, appreciated very much by the Davos crowd.
Guests from Singapore, the USA, UK and Japan were especially interested about the security challenges being faced by Pakistan and how it could affect regional stability. The optimism and confidence displayed by PM Abbasi while elucidating Pakistan’s future outlook and in answering some very direct and probing questions in a totally unruffled manner was appreciated and received positively by the gathering of a very knowledgeable crowd.
During his two day stay in Davos, PM Abbasi addressed a panel consisting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun, Caixin Global Managing Director Li Xin, Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, AECOM CEO and Chairman Michael Burke, Singapore Minister Chan Chun Sing and China National Machinery Industry Corp Chairman Ren Hongbin. Later on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting he held meetings with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) Chief Executive Officer Tadashi Maeda, Uber CEO Dara Khowsroshahi, Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke, Siemens AG CEO Joe Kasser, Mitsubishi Corporation Chairman Ken Kobayashi, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) CEO Ishige Hiroyuki and Trina-Solar CEO/Chairman Jifan Gao.
Davos presents a huge potential for Pakistan, unfortunately, it has never been adequately represented at this forum on a consistent basis. In contrast, Indians have a contingent of over 200 top entrepreneurs at Davos, promoting their country and selling their wares.
The global village has become increasingly interconnected and fast-paced with technological breakthrough, demographic shifts and political transformations having far-reaching societal and economic consequences. Pakistan needs to do more to communicate its case to the world given that it is a greatly misunderstood country, the initiatives taken every year by Pathfinder and Dow Martin groups on their own need to be boosted to be more effective.
While a Pakistani Head of State or of Government needs to represent Pakistan Davos every year, the private sector participation also needs to be drastically expanded if we are to take advantage of commercial opportunities that can be networked in Davos and government-to-government interaction without the restraints shackles of red-tapism and protocol (the writer is a defence and security analyst).