National Day Message by H. E. Ms. Mariam Aftab, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Bulgaria

23 March is an important land mark in the history of our nation. On this day, in 1940, the historic Lahore Resolution was passed in which the Muslims of the sub-continent, under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, expressed their resolve to carve out a separate homeland for themselves - Pakistan. On behalf of the Embassy of Pakistan in Sofia, I would like to congratulate all my compatriots on our National Day and join them in reiterating the commitment to work together to take our country forward on the path of peace, progress and prosperity as envisioned by our Founding Fathers.

Situated on the crossroads of the ancient Silk Route at the meeting point of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia, Pakistan is a young country which also happens to be the cradle of two ancient civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization along the banks of the great river Indus and the Gandhara Civilization that flourished in northern Pakistan. Today’s Pakistan is a geographically diverse country with high mountains, fertile plains, vast desert vistas and a beautiful, unspoilt coastline. It is a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, cuisines and arts. It is also a modern democratic, Islamic state with a young and dynamic population bursting with talent and ideas in all fields, from science and technology to the arts, medicine and sports.

Pakistan's growing and vibrant economy is based on agriculture but is industrializing fast with a focus on textiles, leather, sports goods and surgical instruments. The country’s expanding middle class has made it one of the key emerging markets in Asia. The government of Pakistan has adopted policies of privatization, liberalization and deregulation of the economy to encourage foreign direct investment in Pakistan. Pakistan's Investment Policy 2020 has been formulated to promote an investor friendly environment with a focus on further opening up of the economy. It allows foreign equity up to 100% with no restrictions on remittances of royalty, technical and franchise fee, dividends, capital and profit gains.

Pakistan and Bulgaria have a long tradition of diplomatic relations beginning in 1965. Bulgaria is an important partner for Pakistan in Europe. It is the closest EU country in geographical terms and we look forward to further strengthening ties particularly in the fields of economy and trade, education, culture and tourism. To this end the Embassy is working closely with the Bulgarian government and a number of Bulgarian institutions including the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Bulgarian News Agency, universities and think-tanks. It has been a wonderful and enriching experience both in terms of the initiatives we are working on and the friendships that we are forging as part of the process, both at a personal and professional level. I am looking forward to building on these strong foundations during the rest of my stay in this beautiful and historic country.

The photo is provided by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Ms. Mariam Aftab, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Bulgaria