Last updated in April 2015
Germany and Pakistan have traditionally enjoyed good and amicable relations. Germany is keen to see stable and democratic development in Pakistan and for the country to play a constructive role in the region.
In 2011, Germany and Pakistan agreed to commence high-level political dialogue. The latest round of these talks, held at foreign ministry state secretary level, took place in Islamabad on 15 September 2014.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Germany from 10 to 12 November 2014, meeting for talks with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Bundestag President Lammert, among others. Since 2009, there has been a Pakistani-German Parliamentary Friendship Group in Pakistan’s parliament which has already paid several visits to Germany.
To mitigate the effects of the flood disaster in Pakistan in late summer 2014, the Federal Government has made available a total of more than EUR 6 million, bringing the total volume of federal budget funding for humanitarian aid projects in Pakistan to nearly EUR 12 million. The relief measures are implemented by German non-governmental organisations and international organisations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme.
In the 2014 calendar year, Germany’s bilateral trade with Pakistan stood at EUR 2.07 billion. German exports to Pakistan were worth EUR 806.2 million and German imports from Pakistan EUR 1.27 billion. Pakistan’s principal exports to Germany are textiles, leather goods, medical instruments, Basmati rice and jewellery. Pakistan’s main imports from Germany are chemical products, machinery, electrical goods, motor vehicles and iron goods.
The number of German companies operating in Pakistan has increased in recent years and currently remains stable. German businesses are showing growing interest in the Pakistani market, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors. German and Pakistani companies with an interest in bilateral economic relations have joined forces to create the Pakistan German Business Forum (PGBF), which is based in Karachi and also has a branch office in Lahore. The constantly growing number of PGBF members testifies to the increasing interest in economic exchange shown by companies in both countries. Two new organisations to promote bilateral economic relations were established in 2014: German Pakistan Trade and Invest (GPTI) in Pakistan and GATE Pakistan in Germany. The visit to Germany by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in November 2014 and the visit to Berlin and Munich by a Pakistani business delegation headed by the Chief Minister of Punjab Province, Shahbaz Sharif, in late October 2013 have given further momentum to cooperation. The number of Pakistani companies participating in industrial fairs in Germany is constantly growing.
The following bilateral agreements are in place between Pakistan and Germany:
- air transport agreement
- double taxation accord
- investment promotion and protection agreement
- framework agreement on Technical and Financial Cooperation (as amended by the annual accords on Financial and Technical Cooperation)
- agreement on cooperation in scientific research and technological development
German-Pakistani development cooperation began in 1961. Since then, the Federal Government has funded projects worth more than EUR 2.5 billion. As agreed with the Pakistani government, bilateral cooperation focuses on the following priority areas:
- health care
- basic education and vocational training
- energy (with a focus on renewables and energy efficiency)
- good governance
With its Technical and Financial Cooperation measures, Germany is supporting the Pakistani government’s key reform projects, such as the Fiscal Pact and the National Energy Policy, as well as implementation of Pakistan’s obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In addition, Germany provides assistance to both Afghan refugees in Pakistan and internally displaced Pakistanis who were forced to leave their homes temporarily as a result of the Pakistani army’s military offensives against the insurgency.
The geographical focus of German development cooperation with Pakistan is in the north and west of the country (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA), with individual measures also being implemented in Baluchistan, Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan and AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir).
Pakistan is one of the first of Germany’s partner countries to benefit from innovative development funding instruments. Under the so-called debt conversion scheme, the Pakistani government is rewarded for making public investments in contractually agreed development programmes by debt cancellation worth twice the amount invested. This has enabled a total of EUR 166 million to be invested in education, health care and disaster prevention up to the end of 2013. Together with the Pakistani government, Germany is also engaged in a variety of multilateral funding instruments such as the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM).
The Federal Foreign Office is also funding project activities in Pakistan. These include measures to promote human rights, the rule of law, civil society and the media. The regional focuses of these activities are the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In addition, support is being provided to strengthen the police and public prosecution services in Punjab and Sindh Provinces. The measures are being implemented in cooperation with local organisations as well as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the KfW Development Bank.
Well-established and effective academic and scientific exchange has for many years featured prominently in cultural relations between Germany and Pakistan.
Scholarship programmes, Germany as a study destination, academic cooperation
The main institutions active in this field are the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation on the German side, and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on the Pakistani side. In addition, there are exchanges between specific departments of several German and Pakistani universities (with a focus on engineering and natural sciences as well as social sciences). The DAAD opened an Information Centre in Islamabad in September 2009. Germany is one of the most popular destinations for young Pakistani researchers wishing to pursue a PhD, along with the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. In 2014, there were a total of some 2,000 Pakistani students in Germany.
As part of the Federal Foreign Office’s global Schools – Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), German language instruction has been gradually introduced at several secondary schools in Pakistan. There are seven PASCH schools in Pakistan – in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad and Peshawar – and a total of some 4,000 students learning German at these schools. Under the initiative, in recent years students from several PASCH schools were invited to attend international summer camps in Germany organised by the Goethe Institute.
German archaeologists have been active in Pakistan for decades. Since 1979, for example, the project Rock Carvings and Inscriptions along the Karakorum Highway has been conducted with the support of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. German researchers regularly travel to Gilgit Baltistan as part of this project.
Cultural preservation projects
For a number of years, the Federal Foreign Office has been funding cultural preservation projects in Pakistan. The principal projects in recent years include the restoration of a historical mosque complex in Gulabpur, Baltistan. In 2010 and 2011, the Federal Foreign Office provided funding to renovate and restore traditional residential buildings in Lahore’s historical Old City in cooperation with the Aga Khan Foundation. The two projects won the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2010 and 2014, respectively.
The main institution promoting bilateral cultural relations is the Goethe Institute in Karachi. In the building housing the Goethe Institute, which is from the Bauhaus era and classified as an historical monument, numerous cultural events are held in addition to the language courses. Other institutions active in cultural cooperation are the Goethe Institute-affiliated Annemarie Schimmel House in Lahore, which also offers language courses and a cultural programme, and the Pakistan German Friendship Association Islamabad (PGFA).
There has long been close cooperation in training between German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) and the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC). Deutsche Welle has its own office in Islamabad.
Activities of German political foundations
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation have all seconded staff to Pakistan and run their own offices there. They support projects in areas including the strengthening of democratic institutions, human rights and the advancement of women, climate change, deradicalisation, regional cooperation and the media.