New York, 28 August, 2015
Pakistan’s 69th Independence Day was celebrated for the first time at NASDAQ in New York today where Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi rang the opening bell to signal the ceremonial start of trading, saying Pakistan's economy is on the upswing as it pursues liberal economic and investor-friendly policies.
"We are open to business, and we are open to foreign investment," she told members of business community including traders and investors gathered at the impressive ceremony held in NASDAQ's office in New York's Times Square.
Pakistan American Business Association (PABA) invited Ambassador Maleeha Lohdi to be the Guest of Honour at this prestigious ceremony. In her address, Dr. Lohdi praised PABA for promoting trade and investment relations between Pakistan and the US.
"It is an honour to represent Pakistan at the NASDAQ opening bell ceremony as part of our Independence Day celebrations from the platform of the Pakistan-American Business Association (PABA) which is doing an excellent job to promote Pakistan-US business ties through private sector cooperation," Dr. Lodhi said before pressing the button to set off the bell.
A video based on a patriotic song was screened ahead of the ceremony. The film depicted historic spots across Pakistan and various features of life in the country that many people in Times Square watched on a giant NASDAQ screen. Pakistan's national flag was also flashed across the screen.
"Our economy has staged an impressive recovery while our security situation is improving by the day," she said. "Our economic reforms and liberalization policies have placed us on a trajectory to achieve higher economic growth."
Pakistan, she said, has a functioning democracy, an independent judiciary and a free and lively media.
"Our hardworking and enterprising overseas Pakistanis are not only making a mark in their countries of adoption but sending back remittances which are at a record level today," Dr. Lodhi said.
"Our strategic location gives Pakistan a pivotal role in promoting regional connectivity," Dr. Lodhi said. "Plans are underway to make Pakistan a regional economic hub, providing trade, energy and communication corridors linking Central Asia to South and South West Asia and beyond.
"We are inspired by the ideals of our founding fathers in our efforts to ensure that Pakistan is a modern, progressive, democratic and tolerant Muslim nation."
Earlier, top officials of NSDAQ -- Andew Hall and David Wicks -- congratulated the government and people of Pakistan on the Independence, after Hall introduced Ambassador Lodhi.
The Chairman of PABA, M. Siddique Sheikh, its President Keith Segerson, an active member, Sajjad Qamar, were among those present at the ceremony, which was also attended by Pakistan Consul General Raja Ali Ejaz.
“This year’s Independence Day coincides with a remarkable recovery in Pakistan’s economy. This is a very exciting time for Pakistan to attract foreign investment and for the U.S. based companies to benefit from lucrative incentives this country offers. PABA is ideally poised to work as a bridge between the private sectors of the two countries ,” Segerson said in a statement.