Interview by Syed Turab Shah
Aisha Farooqui is a Pakistani diplomat with a diverse career profile spanning more than two decades. She believes that diplomats worldwide are bridges that connect people, cultures, and countries. There is no greater caring than to contribute toward greater understanding and harmony between diverse people, in the interest of global harmony and order.
The Consul General, Aisha Farooqui, has mastered in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. Aisha Farooqui has received a diploma in French from France, she is a native of Karachi, Pakistan and she has two daughters. She is also Author of “Musings of a Nomad” Blue Ear Books, 2018 and CEO, Bushra Inspire Initiative Ltd. A charity for Girls education in Baltistan, Pakistan. Avid reader and collector of political biographies as well as books on philosophy and spirituality. since September 2016, in the consulate from September 2016, before August 2013 Serving as Deputy Head of Mission in the Pakistani Embassy in Ankara by 2016, served as director of the United States in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad from July 2010 to December 2012, Desk Officer, International Organizations and the Commonwealth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, February 1996 – June 1997. Pakistan High Commission from November 2006 to June 2010 serving as a consulate in London, from August 2004 until October 2006, the Pakistani embassy will be ranked as the first secretary in Cairo. Nowadays, Pakistan’s consulate is affiliated with the Consulate general from Houston.
Attending International Conferences
- Official delegate to World Humanitarian Summit, May 2016, Istanbul, Turkey
- Official delegate to 13th OIC Summit April 2016, Istanbul, Turkey
- Official delegate to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2009, Trinidad and Tobago.
- Official delegate to World Heritage Committee, 2001, Paris, France
- Official Delegate to UNESCO General Conference, October 2002 and November 1999, Paris, France
Public Diplomacy Initiatives
- Photographic Exhibition showcasing the creative works of seven acclaimed Pakistani photographers to mark the 70th Anniversary of Pakistan’s independence, August 2017 Houston.
- Conceived and implemented the concept paper and charter for the establishment of the largest Pakistani Diaspora organization, the British Pakistan Foundation (BPF) in London with the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). BPF was jointly inaugurated by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and British Foreign Secretary William Hague in October 2010
- Conceived, planned and organized the largest Pakistan Festival in Trafalgar Square, London, July 2007 attended by over 20,000 Pakistani nationals in collaboration with Greater London Authority (GLA). It comprised a cultural parade, fashion show, musical performances and trade activity.
- Organized the first ever Seminar on Sixty Years of Pakistan’s role in UN Peacekeeping Operations, May 2004, Islamabad
This collection of essays began as a diary of thoughts and reflections that the author called an “inner journey,” parallel to the external journeys she has undertaken as a diplomat.
“In sharing glimpses of my own life journey, thoughts, and feelings, I hope to dispel this false notion that the ‘other’ is different from me,” she writes. “The truth is that beneath the surface, and beyond differences of color, race, nationality, ideology, and belief, the entire human race is united by the same thread: what I like to call the ‘heart thread’ that binds us all by similar hopes, fears, doubts, joys, grief, success, failure, and confusion about life and living.”
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was elected on the promise of a “New Pakistan” with less corruption, better foreign diplomacy, and progressive changes. Join us for a chat with Consul General Aisha Farooqui to discuss U.S. Pakistan relations since Khan’s election, her experience as a Pakistani diplomat, and her book, “Musings of a Nomad.”
How many Pakistanis are there in the Houston city, and how do you see their role here?
Aisha Farooqui: According to an estimate, the third largest community in Houston, not only our community in Houston, but also hard work and wisdom, there is no department in the city where our community is not represented. If you are a social field, education department, whether you have health care or local politics in this city, every sector will find American people in life, the Pakistani community here is a community that I am really proud and I have said this often. I’m proud that I represent the Pakistani American community here.
How is the Pakistani community vibrant here, which makes Pakistan’s name bright?
Aisha Farooqui: An example for this answer is that the second time there was a huge sea storm called Katrina, and it was such a storm that did not come in many hundred years, the Pakistani community and the volunteers in this city. She served this entire city together and did this work without any discrimination. Pakistanis in America have adopted the spirit of humanity without any religion and color and the way they have served in it. The council has also given it.
Where this consulate’s scope is and what are you doing to solve the problems of the Pakistani community?
Aisha Farooqui: The consensus of this consulate is very large, depending on the ten estates is required to travel. Other cities and states have to go because the consulate becomes a focal point that connects the entire community in other parts including community Houston, Delos, Florida, and the polar point is the focal point consulate of Pakistan Houston. It is trying to redeem the maximum number of people in different cities, who are sitting far away and do not come to me. We run a full councilor service here; here we provide a passport, visa, and birth, death certificate to all types of facilities to the Pakistani people. Join this country and provide documentaries here. In addition, they also consider prisoners in prisons, they are often found together and their welfare is done. This is a busy and vibrant conspiracy that keeps itself busy because its work is wide. Attractive is that any service given by this consulate can be a barrier and no one needs the recommendation to work in the consulate, but when someone calls me that we know someone coming to you If you are looking for a player, then I always say that you do not need to go to Consulate General, our streamline operation for work Wait for your token, wait for your work, it does not make any difference that you know an officer or a Consul general because everyone is a VIP for us, that is why people come to serve them completely.
Pakistan’s present government is focusing on promoting tourism and especially religious tourism for the country’s development, how do you see it and the consulate has been in the role of this?
Aisha Farooqui: Religious tourism has begun since Pakistan has declared the open Kartarpur border, the Sikh community in Texas has promoted me very much, praising Prime Minister Imran Khan very much and thanked. When I went to their religion places, they were crying for tears because they said that they were praying for seventy years that they had a lot of emotional and long-lasting desire to get a chanting. Got busy Releases tourism is opening a new event in Pakistan. When we contact people of other religions, we tell them. We also have books and bridges, which contain information about places and places of church, Sikh religion and other religions in Pakistan. In this way, we are promoting them so that tourism should be encouraged between the two countries.
How is the consulate doing here to promote tourism in Pakistan?
Aisha Farooqui: The current government has made a visa policy liberalized so that more tourism is encouraged. Many Companies tour operators are going to the area, especially in the Northern Territory area of Pakistan. There is a lot of tracking here. Visas are liberal because they are more liberal, so that they go. As you know that our tourism structure is not just a level that should be on the level when the tourists go to Pakistan, there are facilities for hotels to be the roads that we see in the world, hospitality and tourism industry facilities. I have also tried my own efforts in this regard that our commercial section should try our efforts by inviting US companies to go there and make hotels that start adventure. I always have the effort to go to what you are looking for. See and its only way to visit yourself and visit the Northern Areas Look at you It will come to see how much potential is here and what is the need for a person to do without self determination, seeing one way scenario will not be realistic because it will be very different and it will be very good, so our efforts are going on and from some companies There is also a connection that is working. The current government has started a visa liberalization, which has several steps; the first step was that five countries with e-visa facility, including Turkey, UAE and China etc. are expanding it. It has been done, but it is becoming mechanism. Training with each Pakistani mission is being provided by training and these jobs training will be given for visas. Now its online form is being developed, whatever technology is needed in this case and staff training has begun, it is going to happen to us wherever it will be a huge change.
Issues for Pakistanis living abroad are decreasing, and the government also wants to make more and easier for Pakistanis? How do you see it?
Aisha Farooqui: As I said, our whole council is operation; we focus on providing more and more facilities to people and to make them easier so that they do not have any problems. The entire process has been transferred to NADRA website and consulate and embassy do not make their accounts and NIC cards anywhere, now it has gone into control of NADRA, you can sit in your home and apply for NADRA card. There is no need to go to the consulate or the embassy and apply Overseas to Pakistan online, which has come to their home for almost four weeks. If you have a machine readable passport once again you do not have to get consulate for your passport immigration site Passports can sit while sitting at home but you have to make a new passport, then one who has made a passport once has a consulate or Embassy as it is biometric features.
In the end what would you like to message for your community?
Aisha Farooqui: The simple message for the community that I have shared repeatedly is that every Pakistani American should focus on their personal success, with hard work and spirituality, because every Pakistani American success is Pakistan’s success.