Exclusive Interview with Iwan S. Amri, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia

“Ties with Pakistan have greatly improved in last few years”

The Consul recently spoke to His Excellency Iwan S. Amri, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, on various aspects of bilateral relations. Excerpts from the interview are reproduced below:

The Consul: Pakistan and Indonesia have brotherly relations based on mutual respect and brotherhood. Your comment.

Iwan S. Amri: Both Pakistan and Indonesia enjoy excellent relations. These relations witnessed remarkable improvement in the last few years. We would like to encourage and elevate bilateral trade and overall economic cooperation between the two countries that was sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial corresponding to their respective supply &demand potential.

Q: What more opportunities both the countries can avail to enhance this relationship?

Ans: Increased communication and consultations with the various stakeholders in Pakistan and Indonesia will certainly build greater confidence and improve environment for both countries to uplift business, economic and other aspects of the bilateral ties.

Q: As far as trade is concerned, do you think it can be further expanded?

Ans: Already a scheduled talk on FTA in goods had to be postponed in April due to COVID 19 situation which would soon be resumed in future. There was a preferential trade agreement signed in 2013 between the two countries under which Indonesia extended zero duty on import of 20 additional Pakistani products to Indonesia.

Q: Has there been any cooperation between the two countries in energy sector too?

Ans: No Indonesian company could get contract of LNG supply to Pakistan since a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in January 2018. Further, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were dominating the LNG market. However, I hope that Indonesian companies would get contracts in power sector too.

Q: As the entire world is facing the serious challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan and Indonesia are among the countries badly affected due to the virus. How the two countries can jointly work together to save their people from the deadly virus and to contain the virus from further spread?


Ans: Though COVID 19 continues to play havoc with human lives and global economies, nevertheless, simultaneously the damage control efforts are also in full swing to minimize the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. To contain and fight off the financial downturn the friendly nations through consultations are identifying ways for mutual cooperation for the enhanced sustainable economic activities between them.

Q: What is the COVID 19 situation in Indonesia?

Ans: Like other countries, Indonesia has also suffered due to pandemic. Nevertheless the number of cases in Indonesia is lower as compared to many countries. However, the impact of corona virus in Indonesia is not as strong as in Pakistan as people in Indonesia were living in islands and keeping distance naturally. I hope the situation will soon return to normalcy.

Q: Have all the Indonesian citizens been safely repatriated?

Ans: The tracking and data collection process of the Indonesian citizens for their repatriation was a daunting task because of the reason that they were located in various cities and regions of Pakistan. Especially those of Tabligh Jamat were hard to track and contact as they would move from one region to another for their Tablighi activities.

Given the limitations of movement resulting from the lockdown and physical distancing policies by the Pakistani authorities, the Embassy adapted to the evolving situation and through innovative ways and tireless efforts managed to contact its nationals spread over different parts of the country. As per our multi-pronged strategy the Embassy  established intensive coordination with the Pakistani authorities, management of the Tabligh Markaz in Raiwind and Islamabad, IIUI management and the students, Markaz Jamat Tabligh back in Ancol, Indonesia, and the Pakistani friends to ensure that the repatriation was complete and successful. At the end of the day we all emerged successful and were able to repatriate over 180 people to Indonesia. I take the occasion to thank Pakistani government and PIA authorities for facilitating the repatriation.

Q: What is the possibility of air links between both the countries?

Ans: Currently, we do not have any aviation contract with PIA. However Lion Air of Indonesia wants to start flights from Pakistan and negotiations with the aviation officials here are already underway. Lion Air wants to start from three cities of Pakistan. The plan is still on the table. Let us hope that negotiations between the Lion Air officials and Pakistani aviations officials make some early headway.

Q: Do you have some plan to increase people to people contact of two countries?

Ans: Indonesian Embassy organized a virtual meeting with the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) which is headquartered in the economic hub of Karachi. It represents country’s leading Corporate and Business Groups and as an advocacy forum work to improve the general business environment of the country. Through its research projects, it also provides valuable input to the Government of Pakistan for bilateral agreements such as the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and other countries.

During the course of discussion with the PBC, the current issues concerning the bilateral economic cooperation between the countries were highlighted underlining the significance of fostering the sustainable bilateral trade relations. Indonesia and Pakistan must work together for the sustainable trade relations between them. Also, Indonesia will take part in upcoming virtual Rawal Expo expected to take place in August this year. Indonesia has regularly been taking part in Rawal Expo.

Q: How we can work jointly to promote tourism on both sides?

Ans: There are more opportunities with respect to digital sector and tourism. In Jakarta we are trying to promote tourism through digital means. Promoting digitally the scope of tourism will benefit both the countries. Both countries would have to work together to promote this sector. Indonesia government has planned to open sumba island in September this year. We are also facing economic challenges and health issues and our government is striking the balance between the two.

Q: What is the scope of Pak-Indonesia defence pact?

Ans: In 2010, there was an agreement signed between the two countries which covers training of armed forces personnel/ soldiers and joint exercises.

Q: Are you satisfied with the security situation of Pakistan?

Ans: I appreciate the steps taken by the Pakistan government for the well-being of diplomatic community in Islamabad. A letter was written by the dean of diplomatic corps to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanking it for ensuring security of the diplomatic corps.

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