On March 18, 2016, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Pakistan to interview the Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Farukh Amil, about his country. We were also welcomed and joined by the Press Counsellor, Dr. Rafique Ahmed Soomro, who kindly invited us for dinner at his residence after the interview, the Third Secretary Mr. Gul Quaiser, and the photographer, Mr. Khalid Waseem.
Pakistan and Japan (Madoka)
H.E. Mr. Amil explained to us that Pakistan and Japan have had a very amicable relationship since a very long time ago. The people of two nations help each other and visit each other in large numbers. The help Pakistan gave to Japan when the Tohoku Earthquake hit Japan was symbolically important. H.E. Mr. Amil commented to us that he admires the “spirit and generosity” of Japanese people.
Pakistan and Japan have very important economic ties as well. H.E. Mr. Amil introduced to us that 90% of the machinery used in Pakistan are made in Japan and that currently there are many Japanese corporations opening in Pakistan.
Tourism + People (Madoka)
H.E. Mr. Amil recommends the tourist attraction Mohenjo-daro, the Lost City or the “City of the Dead”. He explains that the city was home to the “least known civilization”, where there are fascinating fortresses in the desert. He commented that the elegance of ancient forts and 16th century gardens reflected in literature illustrates a scenery “similar to [that of] Kyoto”. He mentioned that what most fascinates him about the place is the civilization’s harmony with nature.
Regarding tourism, H.E. Mr. Amil explained to us that Pakistani people are always very happy to meet Japanese people. He added, “modest income families have the biggest hearts”. He believes that especially those who live in the villages are “kind, loving, and respectful” to visitors, with an everlasting “yearning to learn”. “Pakistan has a big heart for our friends, and everyone”, he explained. According to him, Pakistani people are very friendly and rarely shy.
Cultural Values (Kurumi)
When asked about the cultural values of the people in Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Amil stated that the Pakistani people cherish modesty, which could be shown through the Islamic idea of sharm-o-haya. Sharm-o-haya is a word in the Urdu language that combines the meaning of modesty and bashfulness. Furthermore, he commented that Pakistani people do not often like to see “obscene displays” and they constantly have “decency” and “respect” in their minds. “We know that it is not good to offend one another. We cherish the Asian way,” H.E. Mr. Amil explained. In addition to this, he described Pakistan as a “community-based, interconnected society”. There are many hospitable people and this derives from the “joint family system”, where regardless of age, all villagers are involved in each others’ lives. This is reflective in how when there is a celebration or a funeral, everyone in the village attends these events. “We respect the elders and love the youngers. It is a lively, energetic society,” H.E. Mr. Amil added.
Pakistan is a multicultural, multiethnic nation and this could be seen through the language. The official language, Urdu is language that incorporates elements of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian influence. Despite the diversity, H.E. Mr. Amil considers that their source of unity comes from the fact that Pakistan “implements great effort for democracy”. “Pakistan was born as a democratic country,” he spoke, “It is important to have this heritage. The flag of Pakistan reflects the rights of the minority, who are non-Muslim. The rules and cultural guarantees are evident in the system, which is enshrined in democracy.” He mentioned that because Pakistan has become the “crossworld of different cultures” and thus, the people have created their “own linkage, which embodies peace and harmony”. “Because of the corresponding effect of the rise in media, it is important for our people to express themselves and feel that they are stakeholders [in society],” H.E. Mr. Amil commented.
During the interview we were served samosa and chai tea. H.E. Mr. Amil commented that Pakistani food is very diverse in correlation to geographical influences. “Identity is reflected in cuisine”, he explained to us.
Because of religious lines, Pakistani people eat meat and vegetables. H.E. Mr. Amil also mentioned that Pakistan has its own “wonderful green tea”.
H.E. Mr. Amil explained to us that Pakistani people don’t eat “pre-prepared food”, as they cook everyday and eat seasonally. He said that food is a very large factor that affects tourism because they change according to season.
Oranges, mangoes, and supa berries are common fruits eaten in Pakistan. Since 2013, Pakistan has been exporting their mangoes to Japan. H.E. Mr. Amil hopes that more Pakistani food will be exported to Japan in future, such as the okra.
H.E. Mr. Amil introduced to us that Pakistani foods have very strong flavors. He described to us that Pakistani peaches are very rich and deep in flavor; “[They] explode in your mouth with flavor”, he conveyed. He also introduced to us that flowers in Pakistan tend to have a nice and strong smell, unlike some flowers in Japan in which many have negligible smell. Sugar sweets in Pakistan also tend to have a strong flavor, despite the fact that there are not many types.
Pakistan has gained a lot of attention recently from Malala Yousafzai, who became the youngest laureate of the Nobel Prize due to her contribution to female education. H.E. Mr. Amil commented that he is proud of her and the sacrifices she made, however, he expressed our needs to consider the situation of other children, who had stood up for others and unfortunately had been killed. “Look at the full picture. We cannot make the story of Malala a circus act. She had a fantastic message to tell and it is important not to lose the message through making her a celebrity,” he exclaimed. As a message to the Japanese students, H.E. Mr Amil brought up the topic of Samina Baig, who was the “first person from Muslim world to climb the peaks from all seven continents”. He stated that “young people in Japan should focus on these stories”. Additionally, he wanted to raise awareness of a fourteen-year-old boy, Aitzaz Hasan, who sacrificed his life to save his school from the attack of a suicide bomber. “The global corporate media ignored many who have important messages. There are tragic stories that deserve recognition. We must remember their sacrifices,” H.E. Mr. Amil commented. He mentioned that Pakistan is “different from the image on media”.
As for a message to the Japanese people, H.E. Mr. Amil desires for them to “see Pakistan with Japanese eyes and see the beauty of the city and the people.” Moreover, he expressed the significance of “not judging Pakistan by what you see on the news”. Lastly, he commented that Pakistan is a “fascinating country” and that although the current generation is very much immersed into the world of the Internet, but it is important to “see Pakistan yourself”.
H.E. Mr. Amil explained to us that his goal as an ambassador is to increase trade and contact between Pakistan and Japan. He commented that many Pakistani people do not know Japan very well, with just a recognition of Japan’s high quality technology. H.E. Mr. Amil recounted that he first learned about Japan through a calendar he had when he was small, which had a picture of Mount Fuji and a bullet train. H.E. Mr. Amil wishes that NHK (Japan's national public broadcasting organization) will be available in Pakistan’s regular television cable package because he wishes Pakistani people to see the “beautiful views of Japan” without “dramatic news”. He also wishes for more Japanese films to be dubbed for Pakistanis, as well as visa free travels between the nations, increased business communities, and more exchanges of think tanks and university agreements (specifically the exchange of professors and graduate student researchers).
World Peace (Madoka)
H.E. Mr Amil believes that world peace can be achieved if people “make peace with earth”. He wishes that mankind can live sustainably without overexploiting nature. He believes that our generation must strive for equality and accomplish the STGs. “It is up to you to achieve in society,” he remarked.
According to H.E. Mr. Amil, the first step towards world peace is to respect the dignity of others. “Without human dignity, you will not have anything.” He explained that social status and career choices should not interfere with the respect and dignity that is felt towards others. Every job has dignity if you are “honest and hardworking”.
When H.E. Mr. Amil was a child, he at first aspired to become a flight attendant and then he wanted to become an astronomer. Therefore during his student years he had focused his studies on natural sciences. Yet now as a diplomat, he was able fulfill his dream to travel the world. He remarked that even if you “plan one thing”, life will “bring you to a different path”. H.E. Mr. Amil also mentioned that he feels especially grateful that his “God is being kind”.
Madoka Nishina 12th Saint Maur International School
Kurumi Onishi 11th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 6th Saint Maur International School