Ontario Wraps Up Business Mission To Pakistan
Premier Connects With Message Of Prosperity Through Partnership
Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario's business mission to Pakistan have delivered a message of greater prosperity through stronger partnerships.
"I want to thank the people of Pakistan. You have welcomed us as friends, treated us like family, and encouraged our efforts to become stronger partners," the Premier said to business leaders here in the Pakistani capital.
"The time for such partnership is now. Pakistan's economy is growing rapidly. And Ontario has the experience and expertise to help Pakistan -- in education, research and development, information and communications technology, infrastructure, industry, energy and agri-business."
The five-day business mission to Pakistan -- the first-ever led by an Ontario Premier -- was inspired by the more than 100,000 Pakistani-Canadians who live in Ontario, Premier McGuinty said.
But it was mounted on behalf of all Ontarians, who expect their government to seek opportunities and jobs for them in today's global economy, he said.
During his visit here, Premier McGuinty met with leading business people and top government officials, including the Chair of Pakistan's Senate, Mohammedmian
Soomro, and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Chaudhary Pervez Elahi.
Ontario's business delegation met with prospective partners in Pakistan. The delegation included a large contingent from Ontario's information and communications technology sector, which is the fastest growing sector of Pakistan's economy. During the mission to Pakistan, six Canadian companies signed agreements with Pakistan businesses.
"The Premier was enthusiastically received everywhere he went here in Pakistan, and so was his message that we can build a better Pakistan, and a stronger Ontario, by working together to create jobs for our people," said Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Trade. "Now we and our business delegates plan to follow up on the contacts we have made here."
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, the first Pakistani-Canadian MPP in Ontario's history, said the trip has huge significance for the friendship between the people of Ontario and Pakistan, and the Pakistani-Canadian community.
"I was very proud to see the way the people of Pakistan connected with the Premier of Ontario. It made me proud of my heritage, and proud of my home, Ontario."
"The mission has gone extremely well," said Andy Merchant, the President of the Canada-Pakistan Business Council. "I think the Premier's visit will do two things: it will enhance business but it will also create better understanding between Ontario and Pakistan."
One highlight of the visit was the enormous welcome -- complete with honour guard, cheering students and flag-waving schoolchildren -- that met the Premier and Ontario's mission at the border.
Another highlight was the Premier's speech to students at the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences, which was met by a standing ovation.
Ontario and Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, signed a "joint declaration" of their intention to "enhance, exchange and expand cooperation" between the two provinces.
The agreement commits them to promote economic ties by exchanging information and delegations in the years ahead.
The Premier also visited the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Ontario's business mission to Pakistan followed its successful mission to India.
"I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this trip a success, especially the delegates from Ontario, some of our best and brightest from business, education and other walks of life, who represented our province very well indeed," Premier McGuinty said.
"In today's truly global, knowledge-based, hyper-competitive economy, we need to get out and work hard to tell Ontario's story, so we can create Ontario jobs. Missions like these are a big part of that, and so is the follow-up work that we must do, together, in the months and years ahead."