Cana­dian HC Perry Calder­wood

Perry J. Calder­wood, High Com­mis­sioner of Canada in Pak­istan talks to SouthAsia’s Hafiz Inam in this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

Southasia - - CONTENTS -

How has been your ex­pe­ri­ence of serv­ing in Pak­istan? As­salam-o-alaikum. Thank you very much for the op­por­tu­nity to meet with you. I have been in Pak­istan for nearly six months now and am very much en­joy­ing my stay here. I am new to this part of the world as most of my ca­reer has been in Africa and Latin Amer­ica. So it’s very ex­cit­ing for me to come to Asia and to Pak­istan specif­i­cally. This is my third visit to Karachi. I’ve been to La­hore, Swat, Mul­tan and Ba­hawalpur. I am very much en­joy­ing the great di­ver­sity of your coun­try and its rich cul­ture. We have been re­ceived very well by the peo­ple we have met.

Keep­ing South Asian pol­i­tics in mind, how im­por­tant is Pak­istan for Canada?

Pak­istan is an im­por­tant part­ner for Canada. It’s a re­la­tion­ship that cov­ers a very broad range of ac­tiv­i­ties, such as trade and in­vest­ment re­la­tions which are grow­ing, de­vel­op­ment and a co­op­er­a­tion pro­gramme that dates back sev­eral decades and con­tin­ues to be an im­por­tant part of the re­la­tion­ship. We have on­go­ing po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue with the gov­ern­ment on a wide range of is­sues and have co­op­er­a­tion in the area of se­cu­rity. There is a large com­mu­nity of Cana­di­ans of Pak­istani her­itage and many Pak­istani stu­dents in Canada. It’s a very broad re­la­tion­ship and a pos­i­tive and dy­namic one. In 2015, around 12,000 Cana­dian res­i­dent visas were is­sued to Pak­ista­nis. How are Pak­ista­nis con­tribut­ing to the Cana­dian econ­omy?

We re­ceive about 300,000 im­mi­grants a year from around the world. In re­cent years, Pak­istan has been one of our top five source coun­tries for im­mi­grants. We have a com­mu­nity of Pak­istani Cana­di­ans of about 300,000 peo­ple - nearly one per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. South Asians are very well-rep­re­sented in the Cana­dian pop­u­la­tion. We re­gard mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and di­ver­sity as our strength and we are de­lighted we have all races, re­li­gions and many lan­guages spo­ken. We think all this en­riches our coun­try. Pak­istani Cana­di­ans in par­tic­u­lar, are very well-in­te­grated in Canada. Many Pak­istani Cana­di­ans have been suc­cess­ful in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. Sev­eral mem­bers

of par­lia­ment and sen­a­tors were ei­ther born in Pak­istan or are of Pak­istani her­itage. In the pri­vate sec­tor, there are many suc­cess­ful Pak­istani busi­ness­men and women. Our uni­ver­si­ties have many dis­tin­guished Pak­istani aca­demics. It is a com­mu­nity that is in­te­grated very well and re­ally con­trib­utes and en­riches our coun­try.

There is a huge dif­fer­ence be­tween the ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards of both the coun­tries. Can the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment work on im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in Pak­istan?

Canada does have a De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion Pro­gramme in Pak­istan and we fo­cus on five dif­fer­ent ar­eas. We pro­vide fund­ing aimed at teacher train­ing in Pak­istan, es­pe­cially at the pri­mary level. We have what we call a swap ar­range­ment in place whereby Pak­istan, in­stead of pay­ing back de­vel­op­ment loans to Canada, in­vests these funds into teacher train­ing. The pro­gramme was launched in 2008 and will end this year but it has been worth about $130 mil­lion CAD. So it’s a large in­vest­ment. But I think your point is im­por­tant. Any coun­try, in or­der to de­velop and achieve its full po­ten­tial, must of­fer qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for ev­ery­one. It’s a chal­lenge that many coun­tries around the world face. We have a strong pub­lic school sys­tem in Canada. Over 90% of the chil­dren are in the pub­lic school sys­tem. There are very few stu­dents in pri­vate schools and many of the pri­vate schools are of a par­tic­u­lar re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion rather than “elite” schools. Thus, in our coun­try we see the vast ma­jor­ity of chil­dren re­ceiv­ing roughly the same qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. I think this con­trib­utes to our coun­try be­ing a pre­dom­i­nantly mid­dle­class and rel­a­tively egal­i­tar­ian so­ci­ety where ev­ery­one has the op­por­tu­nity to achieve his or her po­ten­tial and where we don’t have the ex­tremes of wealth and poverty that are present in some parts of the world.

Can Canada fo­cus on Pak­istan’s un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas in this re­spect?

It is of course the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Pak­istan to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion to its peo­ple. As a friend and part­ner of Pak­istan, Canada has been pro­vid­ing some sup­port as I have just de­scribed and we will con­tinue to look for ways to be as help­ful as pos­si­ble. Pak­istan is a large coun­try with some 200 mil­lion peo­ple and pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion to all of the chil­dren is ex­pen­sive. So I am not sug­gest­ing that it will be easy to pro­vide qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for all in the short term. But I am en­cour­aged that po­lit­i­cal lead­ers at the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial leveI whom I have met are com­mit­ted to ed­u­ca­tion. I am also en­cour­aged to see many very ded­i­cated teach­ers and school ad­min­is­tra­tors, some­times work­ing in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. Canada will con­tinue to be sup­port­ive.

Both Canada and Pak­istan rat­i­fied the Paris Agree­ment on Cli­mate Change last year. How are they work­ing on coun­ter­ing cli­mate change?

Canada was very ac­tive in the ne­go­ti­a­tions which con­cluded in the Paris Agree­ment. Canada is com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions in Canada and to sup­port­ing de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to achieve greener economies. Specif­i­cally, our gov­ern­ment has an­nounced that it will pro­vide over $2.6 bil­lion CAD to as­sist de­vel­op­ing coun­tries adapt and mit­i­gate the con­se­quences of cli­mate change. Also, the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Re­search Cen­tre, an in­sti­tu­tion funded by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, is un­der­tak­ing valu­able re­search on is­sues re­lated to cli­mate change as they af­fect de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing Pak­istan. How are Pak­istani im­mi­grants do­ing in Canada? As I have men­tioned, we have a large and grow­ing com­mu­nity of Pak­istani-Cana­di­ans in Canada and we also have many Pak­istani stu­dents study­ing at Cana­dian ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. Pak­istan is just a 15-hour flight away and many Pak­istani-Cana­di­ans main­tain close ties with Pak­istan. This com­mu­nity is play­ing a very im­por­tant role in pro­mot­ing trade and other ties be­tween our two coun­tries. They know Canada and they also know Pak­istan. They speak Urdu and other Pak­istani lan­guages. In the years ahead, Pak­istani-Cana­di­ans and Pak­istani stu­dents will con­tinue to play a very im­por­tant role in strength­en­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween our two coun­tries.

How do you see the im­pact of Trump’s travel ban on some Mus­lim coun­tries?

Canada is a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety and we are proud of it. We have a strong com­mit­ment to im­mi­gra­tion and wel­come above 300,000 im­mi­grants a year. Last year Canada ad­mit­ted about 40,000 Syr­ian refugees and we are wel­com­ing more this year. The gov­ern­ment ob­vi­ously plays a role, but we have seen com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try – mosques, church and syn­a­gogues - rais­ing funds and spon­sor­ing in­di­vid­ual fam­i­lies. The Cana­dian so­ci­ety as a whole be­lieves that we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to reach out and help and wel­come refugees flee­ing from ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tions such as the one in Syria. We wel­come im­mi­grants, stu­dents, tourists and busi­ness­peo­ple from around the world.

Does Canada con­sider Pak­istan an im­por­tant part­ner in the war against ter­ror­ism?

Pak­istan has been greatly af­fected by ter­ror­ism in re­cent years. Many civil­ians have lost their lives and have been in­jured. The se­cu­rity forces have also lost many of their mem­bers in the cam­paign to com­bat ter­ror­ism. Canada too has been af­fected by ter­ror­ism, though not to the same de­gree but we have had ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents. We see ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents hap­pen­ing vir­tu­ally around the world. Ev­ery coun­try must do its ut­most to com­bat ter­ror­ism within the con­text of the rule of law. We have to do a bet­ter job of work­ing with our neigh­bours and

with our part­ners around the world. The ter­ror­ist net­works these days are in­ter­na­tional. They don’t re­spect bor­ders and we, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the gov­ern­ments and the peo­ple of the world, have to en­sure that we are work­ing as col­lab­o­ra­tively as pos­si­ble and sup­port­ing each other so that ter­ror­ists do not take ad­van­tage of bor­ders to get away with their deeds.

Canada is a great ad­vo­cate of hu­man rights. How do you see the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Pak­istan?

Hu­man rights is at the cen­tre of Cana­dian values. They are at the heart of our for­eign pol­icy, our de­vel­op­ment pol­icy and also our do­mes­tic pol­icy. At our high com­mis­sions and em­bassies around the world, we seek ways to work with the host gov­ern­ments and civil so­ci­ety to pro­mote univer­sal hu­man rights values. This means that ev­ery man, woman or child, re­gard­less of re­li­gion, race, lan­guage, dis­abil­ity or other dif­fer­ence, is treated with re­spect and not dis­crim­i­nated against. In the six months that I have been here in Pak­istan, I have been im­pressed by the strong com­mit­ment of many Pak­ista­nis to hu­man rights. I have had the plea­sure of meet­ing many hu­man rights de­fend­ers and ac­tivists. They are do­ing great work pro­mot­ing hu­man rights values. We also have an on­go­ing di­a­logue with the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment on hu­man rights is­sues. I be­lieve the Gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan at all lev­els shares the com­mit­ment to pro­mote hu­man rights values.

Pol­i­tics in Pak­istan have re­mained topsy-turvy. Are you sat­is­fied with the progress of democ­racy in Pak­istan?

In any coun­try the build­ing of democ­racy takes time and it is an in­cre­men­tal process. In Canada, we have a quite ma­ture democ­racy since our coun­try was founded in 1867. Our in­sti­tu­tions and demo­cratic tra­di­tions are well-es­tab­lished. In Pak­istan there have been very pos­i­tive sitive de­vel­op­ments. The coun­try has seen a demo­cratic tran­si­tion sition from one party to an­other which is a very im­por­tant step in any coun­try’s evo­lu­tion to­wards con­sol­i­dat­ing g its democ­racy.

What more can Pak­istan do to strengthen democ­racy?racy? In or­der to strengthen and con­sol­i­date democ­racy, racy, free and fair elec­tions are ob­vi­ously very im­por­tant. . But other fea­tures of a strong democ­racy in­clude the rule of law, re­spect for hu­man rights, and trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in gov­ern­ment. In any democ­racy, whether ether Pak­istan or Canada, there needs to be on­go­ing com­mit­ment­ment by all to strengthen and main­tain these prin­ci­ples and prac­tices. Ac­tive cit­i­zen en­gage­ment is also a key ey to build­ing a strong demo­cratic cul­ture.

In what ar­eas could Pak­istan and Canada co­op­er­ate er­ate fur­ther?

In eco­nomic re­la­tions, trade and in­vest­ment, I am en­cour­aged to see that the vol­ume of trade be­tween ween Pak­istan and Canada is grow­ing. In 2015, it ex­ceed­eded 1 bil­lion CAD for the first time. In 2016, we are wait­ing g for the fi­nal fig­ures but it is prob­a­bly around 1.5 bil­lion CAD. So it is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. I think the po­ten­tial en­tial is much greater and it is one of my pri­or­i­ties as High Com­mis­sioner to en­cour­age more trade and in­vest­ment ent and eco­nomic part­ner­ships be­tween the pri­vate sec­torsrs of the two coun­tries. There are sec­tors in Pak­istan n where I think there is scope be­cause in many of these e ar­eas, Canada has great ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise. For ex­am­ple, Pak­istan al­ready has a very solid agri­cul­tural sec­tor but I think there is po­ten­tial for in­creased val­uead­di­tion in food pro­cess­ing and the ex­port of a range of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts. An­other is re­new­able en­ergy. Canada has a very strong his­tory of re­new­able en­ergy in every­thing from hy­dro­elec­tric power to so­lar en­ergy. You might have seen that some Cana­dian com­pa­nies are ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­vest in so­lar en­ergy in Pak­istan. An­other in­ter­est­ing sec­tor is mining. Canada has 100 years of ex­pe­ri­ence de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies to ex­ploit min­er­als in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner. In ICT too, Canada is very strong. I think there is po­ten­tial for in­creased part­ner­ships in all of these sec­tors and a part of my role as High Com­mis­sioner is to help iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties in Pak­istan and bring them to the at­ten­tion of Cana­dian com­pa­nies

Is there any other as­pect Your Ex­cel­lency would like to com­ment on?

I will come back to the ques­tion of stu­dents in Canada be­cause it is one of the re­ally good news sto­ries in our re­la­tion­ship. More than 4,000 Pak­istani stu­dents study in Canada. It is one of the fastest grow­ing groups. And I think the rea­son they come to Canada is be­cause we of­fer high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and a wide range of pro­grams. The cost of ed­u­ca­tion is com­pet­i­tive in Canada as com­pared to other des­ti­na­tions. As I have said be­fore, we are a mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety. Stu­dents from all parts of the world come to Canada and in­te­grate very eas­ily and feel at home. We are a bilin­gual coun­try with English and French. So it’s a good op­por­tu­nity to study in Canada and pick up the se­cond in­ter­na­tional lan­guage which is French. The other thing is de­spite what you might hear about Cana­dian win­ters, the fact is most stu­dents go to Canada, em­brace the win­ter and take up ski­ing or other sports like those born in Canada. They learn to en­joy and ap­pre­ci­ate our four sea­sons in­clud­ing our win­ters.

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