Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Islamabad - Tazeen Akhtar - Brazil is 7th biggest economy of the world and very friendly country for Pakistan. Brazil was the first in Latin America to recognize Pakistan in 1948 . Both countries established diplomatic relations soon after. Brazil was also first country in Latin America that opened embassy in Karachi in 1951. Therefore both the nations have a long and warm history of 66 years of cordial relations. Brazil is set to play its leading role in the world. There is huge potential of further enhancing the already close ties in different fields. Thats why , we sought time from busy schedule of the Ambassador Mr. Alfredo Leoni for an exclusive interview on the auspicious occasion of 192nd National Day of Brazil. We discussed different issues of mutual and international importance. The Ambassador shared his country’s point of view in detail and brought out many things that are food for thought, for world leaders if they intend to keep balance and justice in the comity of nations. Details are as under;

 The Ambassador Mr. Alfredo Leoni was very enthusiastic regarding Pakistan and the people of Pakistan. H.E said “People to people contacts are developing. More and More  Pakistani students are studding in our country. Here in Islamabad a large number are learning portuguese Language.  I visited all important Chambers of Commerce and apprised the business community about my country. I made them feel that it is easy , profitable and trust worthy. Number of people visiting Brazil was zero. Now we have visitors from Pakistan.”


“Brazil – Pakistan enjoy very cordial relations since 1948. We opened our Embassy here in 1951. Since then we have friendly ties. Both countries support each other on different issues. There is no negative issue between the two. Mr.” Leoni added

 The Ambassador was of the opinion that “Further it is necessary that if  we intend to make our countries more appealing for each other , we will have to do it in other fields as well . These fields are Trade, Business, Education, Food Security and Social Welfare.”

 Mr. Leoni said that “Trade is enhanced if there are exchanges of delegations. It is the first requirement. For that , we need travel opportunities. I am lucky that when i took charge there was already one flight daily from the region to my country. Now we have 4 companies are conducting daily flights to Sao Paulo, they are Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Turkish. Emirates has two flights from Dubai. Etihad from Abu Dhabi, Qatar from Doha and Turkish from Istanbul.”

 “I started work on visa matters in 2012 to facilitate the business community. We know that business men have to face red tape and bureaucratic hurdles, forms , fee etc. So I worked on minimizing these difficulties, making 5 years multiple visa regime between the two countries. Brazil was prepared for it but Pakistan’s go ahead was also required. Present government took interest and we succeeded in issuing these visas. I am thankful to Mr. Sartaj Aziz in this regard.”

 The Ambassador praised Mr. Sartaj Aziz as  a visionary leader and continued “ He had been to Brazil also. When he assumed the charge of Advisor on Foriegn Affairs, I met him and discussed visa agreement. I asked him to get approval for this agreement as it could not be done in the last Government. We were waiting for the reciprocal steps from Pakistani side but the Governments’ tenure ended. Sartaj Aziz considered my argument and moved  rapidly. He got approval in just two weeks and now both countries are in this agreement since one year. Business men are being issued with 5 year multiple visas so that whenever they want to go and come back , they can do it without going through the procedures. This is maximum from Brazil side. This step has developed trust. Sartaj Aziz rightly understands the importance of Brazil – Pakistan closer and flourishing relations.”


Mr. Alfredo Leoni said that “ Tariff  bariers are major obstacle in mutual trade. We in our region have an agreement between important countries like Argentine, Venezuela, Para guay, uruguay. It is called MERCOSUL. This agreement bounds us to negotiate tariffs collectively and not individually. It means if Pakistan intends to have dialogue on this issue , Pakistan will talk all members of this agreement becuase the tariff will be applied to all these members of MERCOSUL. Its president ship rotated among the members. Whenever Brazil takes charge of president ship, we try to initiate the dialogue. It is very difficult because it is not unilateral but it is multilateral. Tariffs are very high. We need to bring them down for enhancing trade and increasing the profits.”


 (BRICS Bank was very important in the interview . Leaders of the five BRICS nations agreed on the structure of a $50 billion development bank by granting China its headquarters and India its first rotating presidency. Brazil, Russia and South Africa were also granted posts or units in the new bank. The leaders also formalized the creation of a $100 billion currency exchange reserve, which member states can tap in case of balance of payment crises, according to a statement issued at a summit in Fortaleza, Brazil in July 2014. It will provide an alternative to financing from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “The BRICS are gaining political weight and demonstrating their role in the international arena,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said after a signing ceremony. )

 The Ambassador told that “ China will contribute 20 Billion Dollars while Brazil and India 8 Billion. This is not against International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB). It is a different idea. BRICS countries are seeking more  “say” in IMF and WB. Brazil is 7th largest economy in the world but our “say” is not more than an ordinary member. We can not ignore this thing. Brazil has more weight. If we have to run IMF, WB and U.N. Security Council (UNSC) then we will have to reform in accordance with new time. Otherwise there will be alternatives of all these forums . BRICS Bank will accommodate the member countries that will not get positive response from IMF and WB.”


Mr. Leoni made it clear that “ The world of second world war is not acceptable now on. There is a big change. The world has changed during last 60 years. UNSC must be reformed and reshaped. Brazil is not that Brazil now. We borrowed from IMF in 2002 for last time. We started lending IMF loans 8 years ago. IMF lent $ 20 Billion from Brazil.”

 “ Brazil is not that was before 60 years but “they” want to keep Brazil at the same place and position. A borrower became the lender but position is the same. We should work on facts. This is not the world that was 60 years ago. China the biggest partner of Brazil, has also turned a new leaf. Now, nothing happens in the world without China. USA is borrowing from China but China’s “say” in IMF and WB is equal to a common member. That is why , 2014 , brought two new Banks. 1- BRICS Bank 2- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Only China contributed $ 100 billion and that too for the start.” The Ambassador further said.

 Recalling the old good days , Mr. Alfredo Leoni told that “ I was first secretary in Brazil Embassy in Shanghai during 96 – 99. In 2004 I visited Tokyo Japan where i came across the maps of both cities , Tokyo and Shanghai. I could not recognize Shanghai as it was totally changed into a new modern city equal to Tokyo. Now the rapid development can be gauged by the fact that if you visit Shanghai and Beijing after 3 years only , you will be astonished. You will not be able to find the cities that were seen before. China’s biggest trade partner in Americas is Brazil. USA is second.”

 The Ambassador also appreciated that  China and 20 other countries moved forward on (Oct 24) towards setting up an Asian infrastructure lender Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) seen as a counterweight to Western-backed international development banks.

Dilma Rousseff won a second term in Brazil’s presidential election on October 26th . We extended  our congratulations to her and asked “ How was the election?”

H.E said that “ Brazil has 142 million voters. We have electronic voting that was first experience in 2000.Since then more than 5 elections has been conducted with this system including regional, national and presidential elections. In Oct 26th Presidential election 112 million voters used their right of opinion. Polling was held from 8 morning to 5 evening and we got the results at 8 in the night. This is our indigenous system of electronic machines. 72 international observers were present in Brazil to watch the polling. Vote casting is mandatory in our country. The machines can be bought by any country. We provided these machines to Bolivia and Paraguay without any cost or charges. We are ready to share this technology if any country shows the interest.”

When we asked about Brazil support in social sector in the current year , the Ambassador said that “ We remained busy for elections in our country during 2014. So we could not do anything big for Pakistan to help overcome the humanitarian problems surfaced during that period of time but our operations are already going on with UNHCR and WFP.”

“During my five years stay here, we have set the important areas of cooperation that has bright future.Agriculture is most important in these areas. Last year I pointed out that both countries should keep focus on 1- Social Program 2- Food Security. We have very good social programs and Pakistan can benefit from them.” The Ambassador added.

“Things are moving ahead smoothly. Pakistan Minister of Food Security Mr. Sikandar Bosan visited Brazil in May this year. We have held a seminar of Food Security. I stayed in Brazilia for 2 months to convince authorities that an expert needs to be stationed in Pakistan for at least one year to understand the venues of cooperation. My efforts were fruitful. Mr. Xavier Thiago is here in Islamabad. He has got an office in WFP. He will work here for one year and work will be visible.”

H.E. Mr. Leoni said that “ We know what are the needs of Pakistan. Work is going on in P.A.R.C, Ministry of Food Security and B.I.S.P. Pakistan can study our social programs and then apply them to get rid of poverty. Many things are common. We can use mutual experiences. H.H Dilma Rousseff is re-elected thanks to our social programs that uplift the poor to a better standard of life.”

“ Brazil has only 3 % unemployment that is equal to no unemployment. Our people are inside our economy. Social programs have connected them within the economy. We are breaking the vicious circle of poverty. Everyone should be with Food, Education and Employment. A person without these things will also indulge his children to the poverty circle. We will not let this thing happen.”

“ Pakistan needs to connect social welfare funds – BISP with Education. For education , only the buildings are not enough. Students and staff need transport to reach the schools. Children need food, clean water and health to get education. Everything is connected.” The Ambassador concluded.

Editor’s Note ; Mr. Alfredo Leoni was elaborating the things to do and we were thinking that it is the need of the hour to get everything connected. There are many things in the development of Brazil that we can share and enjoy their benefits only with a little hard work. Brazil is ready to cooperate with us in all fields. Brazil is keen to strengthen bilateral interactions for the betterment of the people. Pakistani nations is thankful to this very good and kind friend country and wish to go hand in hand with Brazil. The world in not uni polar now. New powers are emerging. Positive thing is that these new powers are not dictating their agendas to the others. These powers are far balance of power and co – existence. The world has changed. Lets see when the present players change their policies.........

13 Nov 2014