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Visit of Italian Foreign Minister to NUST GTTN
Start Date 
4/20/2016
End Date 
4/20/2016
Venue 
NUST Jinnah Auditorium

The Italian Foreign Minister, Mr. Paolo Gentiloni, arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, April 20, and delivered the keynote address on the topic of the future of Pakistan-Italian relations at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) from the form of the NUST Global Think Tank Network (GTTN). The government officials, diplomats, corporate leaders, policy experts, academics, and scholars as well as students of NUST and various other universities in Islamabad attended the event. Some of the dignitaries present were National Security Advisor, Lt Gen (retd.) Nasir Khan Janjua; GTTN Senior Fellow and Former Governor Balochistan and KPK, Owais Ghani; and GTTN Senior Fellow and former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Ambassador Riaz Khokhar. The ambassadors of different countries, including the Ambassadors of Russia, Turkey, Spain, Tajikistan, and Bulgaria also attended the event. GTTN Senior Fellow and noted man of letters, Mr. Humayun Gauhar, moderated the session.

The session commenced with opening remarks by Advisor NUST and President of the GTTN, Mr. Amer Hashmi. He stated youth was the future of Pakistan. He said it was extremely important for visiting world leaders to interact with the young people of the country to help broaden their outlook on life and the world. He said such an interaction would ensure Pakistan’s human capital was enriched with a long-term ecumenical understanding of contemporary global affairs.

Mr. Gentiloni praised this unique opportunity to recall the past achievements of Italy-Pakistan relations which he hoped would pave the way for increased joint cooperation. Stressing the joint vision of peace and stability shared by both countries, He mentioned how both countries were founding members of the United Consensus Group in the United Nations and shared identical views regarding the reform of the Security Council.

The need to address global security, he said, was dire given that the world confronted a myriad of conflicts in the wide regional swath stretching from North Africa across the Middle East and all the way to Afghanistan. The horrific attacks in Brussels, which resulted in the loss of numerous lives of citizens of the European Union, were quoted by the Foreign Minister as a prime example of how terrorist groups were continuing to operate with impunity, which necessitated on priority a concerted global approach to counterterrorism. He said Italy and Pakistan were two strong pillars of this approach. United by a common aspiration for peace, prosperity and harmony across the world and increased cultural and political tolerance, the two friendly countries were cooperating in a range of fields.

Highlighting the impact of the refugee crisis stemming from North Africa and the Middle East, the foreign minister laid stress on Italy’s commitment towards the integration of refugees and addressing the root causes of the problem. In addition, constructive dialogue and mutual respect between civilizations looking for convergence not clash held the key for addressing the global menace of terrorism, the Foreign Minister said. Mr. Gentiloni shared that the Italian Development Cooperation had played a key role in the cultural conservation efforts in Pakistan as the Government of Italy, he said, considered cultural cooperation with Pakistan on the same order of importance as economic cooperation.

The Foreign Minister also asseverated that both Pakistan and Italy desired the stabilization of Afghanistan. He acknowledged Pakistan’s role in curbing terrorism and expressed his condolences for the lives lost in the recent Lahore attacks. Mr. Gentiloni asserted that extremism could only be defeated through investment in human capital. Calling Pakistan “the gatekeeper of South Asia”, he lauded the country’s role in promoting regional stability and integration.

A healthy and interactive Q&A session followed in which different questions bearing on the future of Pak-Italian relations, regional and global peace, increased bilateral trade between Italy and Pakistan, people-to-people contact, cultural cooperation, the future of EU, Italy’s blocking of India‘s application for joining Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and the contributions of centuries-old Italian higher education system to peace-loving and peace-promoting Italian worldview, were asked by the audience. In sum, the Italian Foreign Minister stressed the need for Pakistan and Italy to develop a multilayered and multidimensional cooperation agenda. He said the civilizational depth of Italian and Pakistani cultures made them suitable and compatible partners in the contemporary world.  

Rector – NUST, Lt Gen (R) Muhammad Asghar, gave the concluding remarks and stated that the steady pace of development of Pak-Italian relations would lead to greater bilateral and inter-regional harmony. He said knowledge, diplomacy had increasingly become the preferred mode of conducting bilateral relations. Rector – NUST further stressed the room for collaboration offered by the inter-university cooperation between Pakistan and Italy in this regard. He shared NUST enjoyed a diverse profile of partnership with leading Italian universities. He thanked the Foreign Minister for choosing the platform of NUST for speaking immediately after landing in Pakistan which demonstrated the potential of universities to participate in promoting not only education and enlightenment but friendly relations amongst countries.

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Report: Future of Pak-Italian Relations​