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Interviews

EMIL WYSS, CONSUL GENERAL – SWITZERLAND

Emil Wyss is an active, goal oriented and a diplomat who believes in “win-win situation.” He was born in a small city in the canton of Zug, which is located in the heart of Switzerland. He joined the Foreign Service in 1987 and was initially posted in Prague, London. In 1990, he moved as an Attaché to the Swiss Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he additionally obtained a degree in International Studies at the New York University. His next two appointments were at the Head Office in Bern. Later, after serving for five years as Consul at the Consulate-Swissnex Boston, he took his assignment in 2010 as Swiss Deputy Consul General in Toronto. In 2012, he took over the Foreign Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

BM: Tell us something about yourself and the efforts made by you towards the enhancement of a cordial relationship within the two countries?

EW: I am Emil Wyss, Consul General of Switzerland in Karachi. I am here since May last year so it means I am here since a year and a half with my wife. I am a father of two children, my daughter has studied bio-chemistry and lives in the United States and my son, who has started Law, works in Switzerland. When I was informed that I will be deployed to Karachi, I was very happy. I called 4 of my predecessors who had already been deployed in Karachi and they said that Karachi was the best place in their entire career. We loved Karachi from the very first moment we visited it, especially the amazing hospitality of all the people, particularly in the business sector. Something which really impressed me from the very beginning was the corporate social responsibility of all the organizations here. When we came to Karachi we had a travel guide, we travelled in taxis and rickshaws, we went to restaurants and I roamed around everywhere just as a local, so it was a great experience; “love at first sight.”

BM: How would you define the relationship between Pakistan and Switzerland?

EW: Pakistan and Switzerland have had an excellent relationship since the very beginning. Switzerland recognized Pakistan in 1947 and we started our diplomatic relations in 1949. 24 Swiss companies are already operating here in Pakistan, so we have very good economic ties; all of them are doing very good business in Pakistan. If you visit these companies, you would be like in the US, Switzerland or any other country since they have the same high quality standards. Every year we have bilateral talks between Pakistan and Switzerland governments to discuss issues with regard to economic ties, visas, environment, human rights and complete relationships of the countries.

BM: Enlighten us about your activeness in CSR activities and it’s brave of you that you visit places regardless of your security?

EW: When we look back at terrorism, foreigners are not too strong of a target, so far, law and order situation has improved over the time dramatically. I think if you behave normally it’s good but you cannot take crazy risks, in short if you are in Paris, Switzerland or wherever in the entire world, any place is not completely safe, you can face terrorism anywhere. I see at CSR activities in Pakistan are very strong and this impressed me a lot. Switzerland strongly supports human rights as it is written in the preamble of the Swiss Constitution, “The strength of a people is measured by the welfare of the weakest of its members.” The idea is basically that if you put down somebody, you go down as well and when you try to lift them up then you lift yourself up as well and nothing gives you more joy then giving, when you give you also receive it double even triple.

 

BM: “Pakistan-Switzerland Friendship Exhibition” was for the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries and to ultimately attract more foreign direct investment to the country, how much did it work?

EW: First of all I would like to say when I came here in May 2014 I had to go back to Tehran where I was stationed before, it was the 7th of June and there was an attack on the airport on the 8th of June. I saw that everybody was in a state of shock at that moment as the whole situation was shown on TV which was terrifying for people. Looking at that incident I decided to do an exhibition to bring back some confidence in the people of Karachi, and of course there is nothing better than an airport as a venue, the exhibition lasted for 3 months. (100 days and nights) with around half a million people (including businessmen and women, politicians, government officials, children and Pilgrims) went through this International-Domestic airport where all of them saw the exhibition. I received many phone calls, mails and appreciations from all over the world from people who saw it and had positive messages about the Pakistan-Switzerland bilateral relationship. It was a win-win situation for both countries. We had 10 companies each from Pakistan and Switzerland that participated in the exhibition. We had weekly draws and a lot of other prizes. Inside the domestic and international departures, two life size models of Swiss cows were placed. The cows were used as Guest Book. People could sign them and make a small donation. US$4,000 were collected, which were equally distributed among sixteen 16 Pakistani NGOs.

BM: Several Swiss Companies are willing to transfer knowledge and technology in areas of food processing, renewable energy, waste management and infrastructure. Is there any news of working of both the countries on any of these industries?

EW: Swiss Business Council (SBC) is particularly active with Swiss Global Enterprise (SGE; equivalent of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Board of Investment (BOI)). From time to time they bring one or two companies here, they explore the market and see what they can do. In 2015 last quarter, we had visit of two Swiss SMEs; both of them were successful to find Pakistani business partners. Then of course the biggest impact are the existing companies like Nestlé, who work with 80,000 farmers tell and show them how to produce clean, safe and more milk than they previously produced. Nestlé alone in terms of direct and indirect employees provides food on the table for more than half a million in Pakistan, similarly there are other companies which are equally active.

BM: What are the major areas where both countries co-operate?

EM: I think the most important thing in the entire world is to provide peace and to have equal opportunities and same human rights for all. It is not about Pakistan or Switzerland. It is about the whole world. We have to work together because Together Everyone Achieves More.

BM: Every year approximately, how many Pakistanis travel to Switzerland for business and tourism?

EM: In 2015, 2000 Pakistanis were granted Schengen visas, issued by the Swiss Embassy in Islamabad.

BM: Pakistan’s Northern areas are heavenly beautiful and tourism seems high here from across the globe, would you suggest Swiss people to come over and explore it?

EM: Switzerland has a lot of tourists. Tourism started in Switzerland a hundred years ago. I observe people who come to Pakistan whether in the northern areas, Karachi or wherever, they go back as Ambassador. They talk about world famous Pakistani hospitality. They talk about how nice the people are and of course they talk about the natural beauty. Nature has no boundaries whether it’s in Pakistan or Switzerland, it is the same, the only difference is you need infrastructure.

Tourists will go everywhere. If they go to Switzerland, Spain, Maldives or Thailand I always say that now it is time to come to Pakistan. But it will be only possible when Pakistan will make special efforts in improving its infrastructure. Switzerland is so small, while Pakistan is so big, so it means you can accommodate millions and millions of tourists. This will not only bring money but it will create strong friendship bonds as well. I believe soon that the law and order situation will further improve along with the infrastructure than tourists will surely come here.

 

BM: Would you like to reflect on some of your up-coming development projects of Switzerland in Pakistan?

EM: In the development field Switzerland, through Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) is very active to provide water, energy, mini-hydro power plants, and to reconstruct schools. The Swiss development project is active; Pakistan is one of the prior countries for Switzerland.

 

BM: Enlighten us about the partnering of Swiss Business Council with the Switzerland Consulate General.

EM: We have a very close collaboration with the Swiss Business Council. I am the Patron-in–Chief. I attend all the meetings to receive all the delegations, and we organized the Pakistan – Switzerland Friendship Exhibition together. It is a very efficient business Council; we meet every month with the Management Committee. We try to be very efficient, as Switzerland is a very small country with no natural resources. We always have to go the extra mile to be more efficient and successful. Can you imagine that Pakistan, with 200 million people, exports about for 24 or more billion US$ of goods every year while Switzerland, with just 8 million population, exports about US $200 billion.

BM: Earlier you have visited the department of Sindhology at the University of Sindh, do you look forward for any cultural and arts events in Pakistan?

EM: Yes! First of all I would like to say the museum was very nice. I was very much impressed. It was really good and we interacted with students there and also in Mehran University. Culture is really important in every country so you need the culture of the past which is important to have solid footprints as you need to know who you are. Then you need to have contemporary art as well, because art has privilege as it is something out of the box. In fact we recently had a contemporary art exhibition at Mohatta Palace in collaboration with Nestlé Pakistan. Our Embassy in Islamabad also had a contemporary art exhibition.

BM: Do you have any message for the Pakistani Nation and Government, as a diplomat’s suggestions are always important?

EW: This is a question which is always asked time to time. Pakistan has to find a Pakistani solution by the people of Pakistan for the people of Pakistan. You have intelligent people, you know what to do, and you have people that have travelled all over the world. According to a research, Pakistani students are ranked the 4th most intelligent students in the world. There is always a specific ingredient for success whether it is about family, relationship, city, province or country. Together we are better, so let’s work together and respect each other. Like I said, Together Everyone Achieves More.

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