ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew on Thursday said the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence is an occasion to celebrate extraordinary links between United Kingdom and Pakistan. “It is the day to remember the founding spirit and ideals of Pakistan which were set out so eloquently by those two giants of the Independence Movement, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal,” he told a panel discussion titled ‘Pakistan of tomorrow – Culture and Heritage, Economy and Future of Pakistan’ organized by Raabta, a public diplomacy initiative launched by the Serena Hotels. “Jinnah himself said two days before the Independence in 1947 that ‘Our object should be of peace within, with our immediate neighbours and the world at large’,” the British diplomat said while sharing his perspective of present day economic and development trends, role of public diplomacy and the impact of dialogue and inclusion in building a shared sustainable future.Commemorating the landmark 70th Independence Anniversary of Pakistan, Raabta is a non-partisan public diplomacy forum that aims to foster awareness, engagement and relationships. The panelists for the discussion hailed from diverse sectors bringing unique experiences to the table. Kamran Lashari, Director General of Walled City of Lahore Authority, an organization mandated for the rehabilitation and restoration of Lahore; Aamir Ibrahim, one of the founding members of Mobilink and CEO Jazz, and Patchamuthu Illangovan (Illango), Country Director World Bank who has been in leadership roles in Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and Pacific, and South Asia regions of the World Bank, discussed the future of Pakistan.Aziz Bolani, CEO Serena Hotels, said, “Raabta is the culmination of the value that Serena Hotels can bring to society. The convening power of Serena allows us to bring together experts, policy makers and the interested citizenry to inform and engage individuals and organizations in advancing debate, create knowledge and develop a wider appreciation of complexity of socio-economic subjects.”Sidra Iqbal, journalist and development activist, curated Raabta by introducing the three focus areas, culture, economy and future. She elaborated, “Public diplomacy is about relationships, and Raabta is inspired to build relationships of value. We are seeking the ‘win-win’ scenario through inclusive and informed discourse on timely subjects and to create a culture of understanding through informed and diverse opinions.”The event was attended by diplomats, government officials, corporate heads and prominent figures from all segments of society. Published in Daily Times, September 15th 2017.