Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of South Africa, the honourable Ms Sue van der Merwe, on the occasion of the Farewell
Function in honour of High Commissioner Akbar Zeb of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
- 6 June, 2005
Your Excellency, High Commissioner Zeb
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to host this farewell
function in honour of High Commissioner Zeb who has unfortunately been recalled
to undertake new challenges.
I also wish to pass on the greetings of Deputy
Minister Pahad. He deeply regrets that he is unable to be here this evening and
asked that I pass on his best wishes to you High Commissioner.
I note that you were only accredited to South Africa on 17 February 2004, which
makes your stay in our country a rather short one! However, we understand that
your departure is a result of your hard work and experience, which your country
is now desirous to use to full effect in a sister country that is facing challenges
of its own. We therefore congratulate you on your appointment and wish you all
the success in your new assignment.
Yet I have no doubt that will not forget
the mountains, rivers, landscapes and seascapes of our beautiful country - from
the temperate South west coast to the tropical east coast and further afield to
the harsh and rugged beauty of the hinterland. And certainly you will not forget
our people and the friendships you have made in this short time.
As you move
to a different landscape and vantage point, please continue to fix your eyes on
the Southern tip of the African continent - for clearly our two continents and
countries need to work closely together, need to envision a better future for
the South, for Asia and Africa and for the developing world. And it is only through
making dreams come true that wherever we are located we can make a difference
in the lives of others.
Yet, on a different note, I must mention that, although
your stay in South Africa has not been that long, Your Excellency you will be
remembered for the fact that you have been at the helm of Pakistan's affairs in
South Africa during an evolving period, resulting in a new promise in our bilateral
relations. We are now looking forward to strengthening our relations with Pakistan.
An important step in this regard, is the holding of the first session of our Joint
Commission in Islamabad, scheduled for 25-27 July this year.
Today as we
bid farewell to High Commissioner Zeb, let us be reminded of milestones we have
achieved together as two countries of two continents.
South Africa and Pakistan
have enjoyed diplomatic relations since April 1994 but even before then Pakistan
was a friend to our liberation movement, and was outspoken in its criticism of
Pakistan has played an important role in the international community
with its membership of the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Organisation of Islamic Conference,
its membership of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, as well
as in its active role in UN peace-keeping activities inter alia in Africa. We
also note that Pakistan has played a leading role as an ally in the global campaign
In the period since 1994 both former President Mandela
as well as the late Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo visited Pakistan and a number
of bilateral agreements have been signed. These include an Agreement on Defence
and Defence Equipment, an Agreement on Peace-time Co-operation between Navies,
an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion,
an Agreement on Scientific and Technical Co-operation, An Air Services Agreement
and a Letter of Understanding on the Establishment of a Joint Commission.
which it is hoped will soon be finalised are a Bilateral Trade Agreement, an Agreement
on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, An Agreement on Co-operation in
the Field of Arts and Culture, an Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection
of Investments, an Extradition Treaty and an Agreement regarding the Employment
of Dependants of Diplomatic and Consular Personnel.
The forthcoming first
session of the Joint Commission, I believe, will go a long way to further cementing
our bilateral relations and will serve as a forum in which we can identify further
areas for co-operation. The Joint Commission will, I believe, help to give further
impetus to our bilateral relations, especially our political, trade and economic
We share a history of colonialism and both our countries come
from continents that have experienced amongst the highest levels of conflict and
underdevelopment and poverty in the world. However, we also share a common vision
for the futures of our countries and continents. Key to this for us is bringing
stability through the resolution of conflicts so as to create the necessary conditions
for sustained social and economic development to happen. In this regard, Pakistan
has played a very important role in the international anti-terror coalition and
seized the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the peace efforts
in its region.
South Africa has also taken note of domestic developments in
Pakistan and recognises that President Musharraf has taken a number of important
steps in the direction of entrenching democracy in Pakistan. We are aware of the
considerable challenges that Pakistan faces in the completion of this objective.
Pakistan's continued and notable presence, for the past ten plus years,
at the South African International Trade Exhibitions (SAITEXs), as well as at
a number of sports clothes- and footwear exhibitions, carried with it the clear
message that Pakistan has great potential as a trading partner for South Africa.
As regards our economic ties, we realise that we have barely scratched
the surface of bilateral economic and business potential. Furthermore, we have
followed with interest the fact that Pakistan's economy has shown a growth for
the second year in a row with real GDP growing by 6.4%. This is quite an achievement
and we can learn a great deal from you.
Your Excellency, as you and Mrs
Zeb leave South Africa, I would like, on behalf of the South African Government,
to pay tribute to the personal legacy you will leave behind, your always good-natured,
impeccably professional and gracious style of diplomacy that has made a great
impression on all that you interacted with - and will assure you a warm welcome
if you wish to return in the future.
We would like to offer our congratulations
to you, Your Excellency, on your appointment to the challenging post of High Commissioner
to Kabul, Afghanistan. The challenges that you will encounter in your new position
are great but I am confident that as a representative of your country, you will
make a significant contribution to bring about a better life for Afghanistan and
We look forward to co-operating with your successor to ensure
that the work that you have begun, during your tenure in South Africa, will continue.
May I in closing state that you and Mrs Zeb have been worthy representatives
of your country and as you leave we wish you God speed and everything of the very
best for the future.
Remember our landscapes and our seascapes that have
inspired an entire nation to fight for its freedom and to be victorious. Remember
our forests and flowers and this Southern vantage point form which we view the
world and from which we will watch you in your new role. Remember the South African
people and continue to strengthen your ties with us in the future. Let this place
be one of the many homes you acquire on life's journey and may you return to visit
us not as a stranger but as a fellow traveler towards a common destiny of development.
am pleased on behalf of the South African Government to present you with a small
token of our appreciation and I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in drinking
a toast to the High Commissioner.
I thank you.