Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your very kind Address of Welcome. My wife and I are deeply grateful for your generous words and warm hospitality. This is our last official function before we leave Pakistan, having completed a five-week visit. It is particularly appropriate that we should say goodbye here because we began our journey in Iran and have thus just visited two of our three RCD countries. We have had the most magnificent reception everywhere we have been, and I say here on my wife's behalf as well as my own, a very warm and most grateful "thank you" to everyone.
As the head of a community living in some 30 different countries scattered all over the globe, I naturally travel a great deal. My wife tells me that she is going to do her best to put an end to the legend that my home is my suitcase. But I think it will always be my fate, as well as my privilege, to see more countries of this world than most people.
Inevitably, therefore, I tend to look to problems from an international standpoint. In this technological age where the pace of economic progress is set by computers and supersonic jets, and where the dimensions of man's activities are extending ever further into space, it is difficult to advance serious or logical arguments against the trend towards regional economic co-operation among sovereign nation states.
I do not underestimate, however, the benefits which flow from a strong sense of patriotism. In countries which have only recently been freed from foreign rule, it is natural and indeed desirable that efforts should be made to create nations out of these new geographic areas, and that their citizens should be encouraged to act in unity, to speak the same language and to shoulder together the heavy responsibilities of making their new countries viable entities. Without a deep sense of national consciousness and national unity, the dangers of fragmentation through tribal, racial, communal or linguistic conflict are only too apparent.
We should admire all the more, therefore, those countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Turkey which have decided to look beyond their own borders, not merely for political or military alliances, but for ways in which they can expand their individual economics for their mutual benefit. The desire of the nation states of the 20th century to form themselves into viable regional units in the 21st century is as visible in Europe, as in Asia and Africa.
The RCD has now been in existence for five and a half years. Yet, as your Chairman has told us this afternoon, it has already a number of solid achievements to its credit with many more under way.
Providing the organisation does not degenerate into a mere talking shop, and providing public opinion in all three countries maintains a mature and forward momentum, the affinities which will always exist between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey should be a solid foundation for the construction of a dynamic and progressive alliance. Men of haste may claim that the growth of the RCD concept has not been quick enough and that the spirit of goodwill which it generates has not yet been translated into sufficient practical realities. But sudden or spectacular achievements in the field of international economic cooperation are not always long lasting. As recent trends in the Common Market of Western Europe have shown, they can also produce quite unexpected stresses and tensions.
A careful and pragmatic approach is the only sound and logical one in such matters. Despite the obvious benefits of expanding trade between the partner states of RCD, the bond of an Islamic society and all the cultural affinities which this involves, despite the broad identity even on political interests and your very similar approach in determining the scope and role of the private sector in your economics, there are a number of pitfalls that must be avoided. The RCD must maintain a balanced programme of development so that all the partners receive an equitable share of the returns. It must avoid, for obvious reasons, being considered as a political alignment either subservient to the East or the West. Because of these basis governing principles, the RCD has very wisely begun its activities in the field of communications. including the RCD railroad, the RCD highway, the RCD shipping conference and the microwave telecommunications link between your three countries. You have thus begun to create the infrastructure of communications which is indispensable to expanding trade.
This network of communications should, in my view, lead soon and quite naturally to another potentially lucrative field of tourism, which systematically planned and developed, can produce very substantial gains to developing nations. Tourism is, first of all, a highly lucrative source of foreign exchange. Secondly, it is a very labour-intensive industry. Thirdly, as it has the advantage of being essentially non-political, there are few dangers of becoming involved in a conflict of power blocs.
You may ask what is it that you have to offer in Pakistan, Iran and Turkey which could reveal the golden sands of the Mediterranean, the sparkling seas of the Caribbean, or the fabulous wild life of East Africa. I am convinced that a serous analysis would reveal that there is more than sufficient tourist appeal in the three RCD countries in terms of natural and historic assets, archaeological finds and cultural attractions to justify the development of a major tourist market. Taking each nation individually on the other hand, progress may well be slower and the development costs almost certainly greater.
When delivering my Convocation Address at the University of Sind, I emphasised my belief that the Muslim countries of the world, and particularly those of the RCD, which have such a magnificent cultural heritage, must seek to create a revival of Muslim architecture. I pointed to the millions of non-Muslim tourists who travel from all over the world to see our renowned monuments of the past. This architectural heritage is an asset of inestimable value, and is one which must be revived in the future, both for the good of our own Muslim society and also as a major attraction to the tourists we will try to bring here.
Thus it is that I urge that whatever new hotels, entertainment and recreation centres which are developed in the future for the Pakistan Tourist Industry - and indeed for the RCD market generally - should base themselves on our own traditional concepts and styles of architecture, as well as our own building materials such as marble, tiles and trellis work.
The tourist is a strange animal. Like the explorers of old, he - and especially she - is always looking for fresh fields to conquer. You will discover that you sometimes have to be prepared to go to extreme lengths in order to satisfy them. I was amused to read in one of the proposals by our architects for a lodge in a Tanzanian game park that we should follow the example of the Wa Meru tribe and that "a sharp stick will be left to penetrate the top of the roof in order to prevent witches from settling on the top and casting spells on those within". Having observed some of the tourists out there, I am inclined to think that it is not so much the witches on the roof-top from whom we should be protected, but the witches inside...............
However, there are compensations. The growth of the American and European economics coupled with the decrease in travel costs have recently made areas such as the Bahamas and East Africa accessible to a new level of less prosperous tourists than a decade ago. What is more, this bursting at the seams of the world tourist market has put an enormous strain on the established resorts which in many cases have become overcrowded and often ruined by profiteering developers. New areas must, therefore, be developed, and I suggest that the RCD deserves high priority.
Perhaps, the first step towards RCD co-operation in the field of tourism which might be worth examining is a common approach to marketing, bookings and routing of the three national airlines. This could lead quite logically to a pooling of equipment and facilities wherever it is manifestly in the interests of all three airlines.
At this point, however, I should give a word of warning. The steps necessary to mobilise a substantial volume of foreign visitors to any given area of world are in themselves neither difficult nor unknown. However, it is my conviction that the RCD should seek a sound growth pattern based on a really well thought-out programme of tourist development. It is relatively simple to promote a sudden influx of tourists to any given region but - as some countries have discovered to their cost - an influx of this kind can so easily become just a flash in the pan. Mass movements of tourists can be extremely short-lived and reversible in a matter of months.
This may be the result not only of political considerations but also because the parameters of the market are constantly evolving, and this evolution must be forecast and taken into account when any regional tourist programme is being worked out.
Let me finish by saying that the RCD, and particularly Pakistan, must, as soon as possible, become a destination area rather than a mere transit post. The tourist generating markets must be analysed and the necessary facilities developed here, in Turkey and in Iran, so that well-conceived RCD tours can be successfully sold throughout Western Europe, the U.S.A. and other world tourist export markets, In terms of results, such a development could ultimately bring to Pakistan some 500,000 tourists a year. If each one of these stayed between 5 and 20 days here, spending an average of twenty five dollars a day, Pakistan's foreign exchange earnings would climb by some one hundred million dollars per annum.
After that cheerful but not, I think, unduly optimistic suggestion, I will conclude these remarks, Mr. Chairman, by wishing all of you who share the aims and objectives of the RCD, and who are working actively on its behalf, every encouragement and success. I am convinced that both time and history will prove to be on your side.
Source: Ismaili Mirror 1970 Souvenir
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