Norwegian ambassador encourages broader Pakistan view

Norwegian ambassador encourages broader Pakistan view


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Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan Cecilie Landsverk

‘Pakistan is much more than the scandals and a lot of propaganda which is being published in to the international media,’ Norway’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cecilie Landsverk tells The Foreigner in an exclusive interview at the Islamabad embassy.


Ambassador Landsverk, a very learned woman, kindly took time out of her busy schedule to be interviewed at short notice.

She welcomed The Foreigner enthusiastically, explaining the county’s complex culture and society in a beautified way over coffee.

Beginnings and positivity

“There are layers and layers of the strong cultural bindings which are depicted in the hearts and minds of people of Pakistan," she said.

“I started my career back in 1982, serving in Turkey for five years before resuming charge of the Ambassador position here in Islamabad”, she explained, “it was a great experience as Turkey is passing through a developing era.”

Pakistan is a tough country as far as accomplishing diplomatic responsibilities are concerned.

When asked how she finds her position as ambassador, she replied, smiling, “of course, Pakistan is a country which is always in the headlines of the world media.”

“Nevertheless, I’ve had great and nice experiences since resuming my post here last year,” she added.

Difficulties

Ambassador Cecilie Landsverk
Ambassador Cecilie Landsverk
©2012 The Foreigner/All Rights ReservedAmbassador Landsverk took charge just a few months following Police Security Service (PST) Janne Kristiansen stepped down. Ms Kristiansen had revealed classified information confirming operative Norwegian intelligence agents in Pakistan.

Diplomatic relations were tense between both countries. Ishtiaq Andrabi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Norway, and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials had an emergency top-level meeting.

Ambassador Andrabi stated, afterwards, he believed it would not damage the joint relationship, but former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) General (R) Hamid Gul called for the agents’ arrest.

Norwegian Ambassador Cecilie Landsverk wrote an internal letter at the time, recommending the situation be monitored, as it could flare up again.

“The issue of the Norway PST director’s resignation was based on misunderstanding and there was nothing tense between the relations of both the countries. The issue was resolved instantly because there was nothing based on reality in the PST scandal,” she now declared.

Funding and transparency

Ambassador Landsverk speaking to Malik Ayub Sumbal
Ambassador Landsverk speaking to Malik Ayub Sumbal
©2012 The Foreigner/All Rights ReservedA few Norwegian NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) are working in Norway, such as Norwegian Church Aid and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Whilst they are regarded here as attached to a Norwegian government ministry, ambassador Landsverk refuted this when asked.

“Both organizations are NGOs and the government of Norway has nothing to do with them, they are solely playing the role of being NGOs,” she said.

Norway has also invested enormous amounts in Pakistan, especially in the culture sector.

NOK 160 Million has been pumped in so far, according the ambassador, as well as several other projects. A lot of money was given recently towards those affected by flooding.  

Ambassador Landsverk declared she has ensured transparent utilization of and accountability for the money to these projects because Norway issued the funds for Pakistan’s people.

Rich

Ambassador Landsverk and Malik Ayub Sumbal
Ambassador Landsverk and Malik Ayub Sumbal
©2012 The Foreigner/All Rights ReservedDuring the interview, the ambassador also stressed the importance of reading about history, culture, and society before visiting a country.

She explained her opinion about the people of Pakistan began to develop after the first couple of months.

"The people of Pakistan have owned a rich hospitable and generous culture. All over, the people have open hearts and respect for guests, and I have gained a lot of respect in this country."

Ambassador Landsverk has traveled to far-flung areas of Pakistan as well. She praised what she found.

“I have visited a number of major cities of Pakistan and I found each one different from the other, with many historical places and passionate people. I have also visited the Wagha border and seen a lot of unity in this nation, which is really awesome.”

Openness

Norwegian ambassador Cecilie Landsverk
Norwegian ambassador Cecilie Landsverk
©2012 The Foreigner/All Rights ReservedIn closing, the ambassador encouraged people to be more receptive to Pakistan as a country and population.

“Pakistan is much more than the scandals and a lot of propaganda which is being published by the international media. There are layers and layers of strong cultural bindings, which are depicted in the hearts and minds of its people.”

What else would you like to impart to outsiders?

“They [the Pakistani people] have a strong and rich culture which is rooted in thousands of years of history.”

“The world should greatly acknowledge their fantastic and glittering past," ambassador Landsverk stated.

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