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The Bilateral Relations


The Bilateral Relations

In July 2018 Imran Khan, leader of the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), won the political elections taking on the role of Prime Minister, with a political program aimed at fighting corruption and modernizing the country. With the security in the country much improved in comparison to the previous years, the priority of the new Government appears to be economic recovery. In this regard, Imran Khan has obtained substantial funding from the countries considered friends (China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates), and above all has entered into a bail-out agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which provides of six billion dollars, over a three-year period. In return, Islamabad has agreed to implement, within 39 months, an ambitious program of structural reforms, with austerity measures and and the government's commitment to guarantee the independence of the Central Bank. However, it should be said that the new government appears attentive to the social problems of the country, having in fact announced the launch of an ambitious social security program, aimed at ensuring the inclusion of the less well-off, as well as the female population.

As concerns Italy, Islamabad plays a strategic role from two points of view: the normalization of the internal context in Afghanistan and the achievement of regional stability. Islamabad, from its perspective, looks at Italy as a partner between European countries both bilaterally and within multilateral forums. In this context, the coincidence of views regarding the reform of the UN Security Council and the formal support provided by Pakistan to Italy during the vote for the election of the non-permanent members of the CdS for the 2017-2018 period is to be mentioned. The good tenor of bilateral relations has been consolidated in recent years starting, in particular, from the meeting in Rome between Minister Terzi and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (1 February 2013), which saw the signing of the strategic partnership protocol (Strategic Engagement Plan). The memorandum provides for the strengthening of bilateral cooperation through periodic meetings both at political level and with senior officials. On December 2018, the Italian side was led by the Secretary General Ambassador Belloni, as in past. On the side lines of it, ad hoc consultations were held on migration-consular issues, with representatives of the respective Ministries of the Interior.

As part of activities aimed at strengthening bilateral relations, Undersecretary Manlio Di Stefano, together with the delegation, participated in the Italian-Pakistani Mixed Commission organized in Islamabad on 26 and 27 November 2019.

The last visits of government members date back to 2016: in April the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gentiloni visited Islamabad and in September the Minister of Defense Pinotti. There has also been a noticeable increase of contacts between the companies of the two countries, in particular among those in the defense sector, also thanks to various events that have strengthened the interest of our companies and fostered their greater "awareness" of their potential of the Pakistani market. The last session of the Mixed Economic Commission was held in Rome on 29-30 January 2018 and saw the signing of three letters of intent for industrial collaboration in the sectors of textiles, shoes and extraction and processing of marble.

The Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat of the ex-IsMEO / IsIAO (today ISMEO) - A Short Profile

ISMEO's historic mission in the Swat valley, active since 1956, is connected to the role of prof. Giuseppe Tucci in the excavations of the city of Gandhara, which ensured extraordinary contributions in the knowledge of Indo-Greek art, of extraordinary historical value, being the realities of syncretistic civilization founded by the armies of Alexander the Great.

As evidence of the high value of the Mission, two directors of the same (the first Dr. Domenico Faccenna; and the current Prof. Luca Maria Olivieri), and the then president of ISMEO Prof. Gherardo Gnoli, have been awarded the Pakistani high honor "Sitara-i-Imtiaz" (Star of Excellence), roughly corresponding to our OMRI Award. Prof. Tucci has also been awarded the highest civil recognition in Pakistan, the "Hilal-i-Imtiaz" (Crescent of excellence), comparable to our Grand Cross. The fundamental role of the Mission is confirmed with the delivery of some finds to the National Museum of Oriental Art “G. Tucci ”in Rome.

With keen appreciation from the local Department of Archeology and Museums, the Mission also embarked on the computerization program of inventories and descriptive cards of the archaeological materials preserved in the Lahore Museum and the Swat Museum. Furthermore, the study of the Buddhist architecture of Swat has been enriched with new and more detailed reliefs from the shrines of Abbasahebchina, Tokar Dara I and Amuluk Dara, while also reaching the identification of new shrines in Tokar Dara II and Kandara I.

An important project of restoration and documentation of the Mission, conducted with the University of Padua, also involved the restoration of the Buddhist sculptures of Jahanabad damaged by the Taliban during the insurrection period (2007-2009).

In addition, the main excavation site of the Mission in Barikot (so far the only existing excavation of an Indo-Greek city), has recently seen a significant financial commitment from the Pakistani provincial government, which has acquired the surface on which the ancient city stood (originally the Bazira of the times of Alexander the Great) as a protected heritage for future generations.

A recent development of the activity of the ISMEO Mission is also the study of genomics and bio-archeology, in collaboration with the Harvard Medical School and the Max Planck Institute. Thanks to the study, Swat, with its data recorded on the human genome, is among the areas of the ancient world best studied from the DNA point of view.

ISMEO's mission has made it possible to achieve the following results:

1) the reconstruction and reopening in 2013 of the Swat Museum damaged by an explosion in 2008;
2) the restoration (completed in 2016) of the colossal Buddha of Jahanabad scarred by the Taliban in 2007;
3) the acquisition of 12 archaeological sites, with a KP $ 3 million post-project investment (completed in 2018);
4) the return, with an increase in archaeological tourism, of Swat in the national and international tourist circuit.
Also on the archaeological mission in progress in Sindh, performed by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and directed by Prof. Valeria Piacentini, obtained considerable results and unanimous appreciation.

The mission, which began in September 2010 under a license issued by the "Department of Antiquities - Government of Sindh", was started as a joint Pakistani-Italian-French research project in Banbhore. An agreement between Italy and Pakistan was then formalized through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), on November 15, 2017, between the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and the "Department of Antiquities - Government of Sindh".