Pakistan, Azerbaijan likely to launch direct flights in coming months: Ambassador Bilal Hayee - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF NEWS.AZ (VIDEO)
News.Az presents an exclusive interview with Mr Bilal Hayee, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
News.az- Mr Ambassador, Azerbaijan and Pakistan are mentally close to each other countries. We would like to hear more about historical and strategic ties from you.
B.H- There have been a lot of historical, cultural and political reasons behind the strong relationship between Azerbaijan and Pakistan. We have had historical economic linkages if we look back at history. Pakistan and Azerbaijan have been parts of the enriched Silk Road. One example of this historical linkage is the presence of the Caravanserai Multani in Icherisheher [or Old City is the historical core of Baku]. You see that the caravans from the ancient Pakistani city of Multan used to travel to and would stay here in Baku and would meet with the businessmen of that era.
We have also strong cultural and economic linkages. As Azerbaijan became independent in the 1990s, we see that the territories of Azerbaijan were invaded and occupied by your enemy. At a time when Azerbaijan, being a new country, is faced with the turbulence of great troubles, Pakistan helped Azerbaijan in the international fora, particularly in the United Nations in New York where the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council were adopted. At that time, Pakistan was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and played an important role in the adoption of these resolutions which provided a legal stance to Azerbaijan on the issue of Karabakh.
Our relationship is based on a very strong foundation, and we hope that it will flourish in the months and years ahead.
News.az- How is the feeling to see your country’s flag everywhere in the country that you are sent as an ambassador? How are you feeling yourself in your friend country?
B.H- Seeing the Pakistani flag in a foreign country is a unique and amazing experience. Normally, we understand that in a foreign country the flag of another country is not usually flown. But we see the Pakistani flag on a number of buildings here, even in faraway regions of Azerbaijan, which give us immense pleasure. This shows the respect and love of the Azerbaijani people for Pakistan. This is, indeed, a unique experience and makes us very happy. There is a strong bond between the peoples of the two countries.
News.az- After the liberation of Karabakh, many Pakistan officials called their business persons to invest there. What is the situation regarding this issue right now?
B.H- I’ve been sharing this information with Pakistani companies and business people that there are opportunities for investment there [the liberated Azerbaijani territories]. Quite a few countries have shown interest in exploring these opportunities. Representatives of some companies have actually visited these areas. We do hope that as the process of clearing mines proceeds further, the opportunities for business, investments and joint ventures will increase and many Pakistani companies will come here to make foreign investments and set up factories. I will be joining the visit of a delegation of some Azerbaijanis businessmen to Pakistan next week for their meetings with Pakistani companies. I hope that in the near future, we will be able to have some kind of strong partnership between the business communities of Pakistan and Azerbaijan, which will be beneficial for both countries.
News.az- How does Pakistan deliver to the world information about Kashmir? What is the situation there right now?
B.H- You know that the issue of Kashmir has been a tragic event if we look at the profile of South Asia. It is, what is called, is an unfinished agenda of the parties, it is the oldest agenda item for the United Nations. There have been pending resolutions since 1948. So, it is very unfortunate that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has not been resolved as was promised by the international community, particularly by the United Nations. The people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir are still suffering from brutalities and systematic human rights violations. Today, the situation is very sad, people there are unable to enjoy their basic fundamental rights. Kids cannot go to school, and patients cannot have access to healthcare and medicines because of lockdowns.
A few days ago, the Embassy of Pakistan held an exhibition in Baku, showing the stories of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It is very important for the international community regarding the issue of human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights not to close their eyes to what is happening in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
News.az- What is the plan for making people-to-people contacts between Azerbaijan and Pakistan more closely? Are there any upcoming cultural programs on the way?
B.H- This is a very important question. I believe that the relationship between Pakistan and Azerbaijan cannot be really strong and sustainable until this relationship is between the peoples, business communities, academia and journalists of the two countries. Currently, we are working on a number of projects. Last year, we established the Pakistani Cultural Center in Azerbaijan University of Languages. We continue to organize events, seminars and exhibitions at the center. Next week, we will launch a painting competition at the Cultural Center. Very Azerbaijani youth painted numerous pictures to show the friendship between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. This year, as you know, is very important for our relationships. In June, Pakistan and Azerbaijan will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. So, this is an important year for us, we have envisaged a number of programs and we hope to hold some cultural events. We are also planning to issue joint postage stamps to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. But very importantly, I believe that unless people from countries are able to travel to respective countries, cultural cooperation and people-to-people contacts will remain limited. We hope that in the next couple of months, we will be able to resume and start direct flights between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. This will be a big breakthrough in terms of bringing the peoples of two countries closer. The direct flights will be between Baku and the major cities of Pakistan. It will be just a three-hour flight, and we hope that many Azerbaijani friends will be able to travel to Pakistan for tourism, business and other purposes. Similarly, we hope that a large number of Pakistanis will also travel to Azerbaijan for tourism and business purposes. All this will bring the transformation of our relationship.