• Niga Talha, Suhaima Adil, Saima Adil and Sadaf Noureen

    Niga Talha, Suhaima Adil, Saima Adil and Sadaf Noureen

  • Alia Jafri, Nasim Ali, Shaista Farooq and Shahla Fatima

    Alia Jafri, Nasim Ali, Shaista Farooq and Shahla Fatima

  • Alia Jafri and Nasim Ali

    Alia Jafri and Nasim Ali

  • Novaira Maneka , Awmarah Shoaib and Mahvash Parvizi

    Novaira Maneka , Awmarah Shoaib and Mahvash Parvizi

  • Mohamed Ali, Wing Commander Ghazi Salahuddin, Lieutenant Colonel Inam Ulhaq Emanuel, Abdul Ansari, Lieutenant Commander Ikram Watto, Captain Akhtar Abbas and his daughter Aakifah

    Mohamed Ali, Wing Commander Ghazi Salahuddin, Lieutenant Colonel Inam Ulhaq Emanuel, Abdul Ansari, Lieutenant Commander Ikram Watto, Captain Akhtar Abbas and his daughter Aakifah

  • Malcolm Leggett and Ejaz Qureshi

    Malcolm Leggett and Ejaz Qureshi

  • Mohamed Ali with Tony Gregson

    Mohamed Ali with Tony Gregson

  • Cutting the anniversary cake.

    Cutting the anniversary cake.

  • Captain of the local Pakistan cricket team Sohail Lone receives the winning cup from High Commissioner Naela Chohan

    Captain of the local Pakistan cricket team Sohail Lone receives the winning cup from High Commissioner Naela Chohan

  • High Commissioner of Pakistan Naela Chohan and Don Heatley, Chair of Coimmission of ACIAR

    High Commissioner of Pakistan Naela Chohan and Don Heatley, Chair of Coimmission of ACIAR

Pakistan 70th Independence Day Celebrations

14 August 2016

The closest I’ve been to Pakistan was on a camel called ‘Rocket’ in The Thar desert. Now Rocket was an adventurous camel, quite happy to take directions from this intrepid traveller on an excursion to see a sunset over the desert. But I hesitated when the cameleer offered to send me off into the sunset to Islamabad, not just because I didn’t have a visa but hours on a camel bouncing on a very uncomfortable saddle was not my idea of fun. But high on my ‘bucket list’ is Kashmir, once the jewel in the crown for travellers looking for luxury swanning about on the lake its fate is still in dispute.

In Canberra the most exciting thing for the High Commission is their new premises sitting happily between South Africa House and the Embassy of France with a rather nice view to the lake and beyond. And in this modern concrete, timber and corrugated iron building the central reception room played host for a large group of locals intent on some cake, nicely iced in the colours of the flag and tiny squares of barfi. Think condensed milk, sugar and nutty variations. But don’t think of the derivation of the word from the Persian word ‘barf’, which has a whole different meaning.

Pakistan celebrated this  its 70th Independence Day with “zeal and fervour” in Islamabad according to one of their newspapers. In Canberra it was low-key with a flag to raise, a cake to cut and a presentation to the local Pakistani Cricket Team, winners of the south-asia competition finalised last weekend in the far flung ‘burb of Bonner where the Pakistanis beat the Indians.

But central to the festivities was the launch of a booklet from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research which outlines a co-operation between Australia and Pakistan for projects of “strategic regional importance with high quality projects, enthusiastic partners and a strong gender orientation.” Is this aid of a new kind? Or a rejigging of what we used to do?