You have served the federal and provincial government in several capacities. How difficult was it for you, being a woman, to work in a system that is generally male dominated?Men as well as women face umpteen problems in environments that are unethical. Corruption is the use of public office for personal interest. Essentially it happens when systems are circumvented and personal discretion comes into play. If bureaucrats, operate within the law and within established institutional systems they can address and even reduce corruption within their organisations. If systems are upheld and if internal checks ensure that they are upheld, corruption can be effectively combatted by bureaucrats-be they male or female. The role of TDAP is to establish and enhance business-to-business contacts between local and foreign traders. Please highlight some of the achievements of TDAP since its inception.The Trade Development Authority was set up in 2006, as successor to the Export Promotion Bureau. Overnight, its raison d’être altered from export promotion to trade facilitation. However, despite the change of structure, no rules were formulated for the newly-formed TDAP. For over a decade, the organisation operated without notified rules and procedures. As a result, personal discretion of the senior management was enormous and this led to the horrifying scandals of yore. Furthermore, without HR or financial rules, there were no perimeters for promotion, increments, etc for the staff and officers. With the support of the Ministry of Commerce, we were able to settle this troublesome issue and develop and notify TDAP’s financial and HR rules. We have also been working hard in both marketing and supply-chain development. This means exploring new markets and regions through specific brands that TDAP has developed eg Aalishan Pakistan in India, Single Country Exhibition in Sri Lanka and the Trade Caravan in Central Asia – the latter, allowing Pakistan strategic entry into markets of the Eurasian Economic Union. In supply chain, TDAP has actively worked with the Ministry of Food Security with regard to mango, kinoo, chillies etc. New packing methods, education and emphasis on phytosanitary compliances have started to make a difference in perceptions within the agro-sector. Pakistan’s exports are on the decline and many would like to blame and deprecate TDAP’s hard work. Finding a scapegoat however is easier than finding a solution. It is time we work together to address issues that impede our export growth; issues such as production, value addition, global value chain development, and research and innovation. You frequently travel around the world for work. How does Pakistan compare with other Asian countries when it comes to business activities? What can be done to attract foreign investment? Pakistan is God-gifted in natural resources and beauty. Our people have the ability to excel in mostly everything they put their heart to. What we lack is inclusive development. This means development of all regions and groups. It means lessoning the gender gap, strengthening the role of the private sector for job creation, accelerating energy reforms and providing better transport, health and education facilities. Despite recent positive economic indicators, Pakistan is also severely hampered by its media image and this in turn affects its trade and investment relationships. We cannot deny however that with its 200 million people, its 65 million middle class domestic consumers, Pakistan is a favourable country for investment. With political stability and the right macro-economic environment, our country can well be on a strong growth trajectory into the future. “The greatest heroes of Pakistan, to my mind, are the unsung ones; the ones that don’t make it to front page. These are the women and men who fight poverty and hardship” Are you a workaholic? How do you spend your leisure time?Besides work, I love art, design and culture. It is part of my family heritage. I paint, design jewellery and lately am enjoying listening to literature classics through downloaded audio books. My life also centres on my family, my parents, my husband and children. They are my stress relievers, efficacious in helping to alleviate the hassle of life around me. What skill/lesson have you had to learn the hard way by working in government offices?I don’t know if one can single out the lessons that one learns in life. Our personalities are a composite of all our collective experiences. And, at times a single experience can trigger a chain of events capable of shaping our entire personality. I think one of the biggest lessons one learns over time is patience; the ability to find calm in times when things don’t go as expected, when unpredicted variables hamper the course of one’s plans. Bureaucracy is riddled with this unpredictability. As magistrates early in our career we learnt to deal with law and order issues, to cope with emergencies without flinching, to take strong decisions in short time spans. This is all a process of collective learning and character building that a government job entails. What does it mean to be Pakistani for you? What is your vision for the country?My identity is merged with that of my nation. To be Pakistani means to be me. I cannot see myself as an entity separate to my land. And, therefore Pakistan’s success is my own personal success, its failure my own defeat-not as a bureaucrat but as a citizen of this country. Any vision of Pakistan would be one of peace and development, in which our natural and strategic assets would be utilised to the maximum benefit of all areas of the country at large. Which, according to you, has been your most significant achievement till date?With the support of the CC France Ambreen Iftikhar, we signed a Memorandum Of Understanding between the Albert Du Mon school of Fashion, Paris and the Textile Institute of Pakistan. That is definitely, quite an achievement. We, at Daily Times, consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr Adeeb Rizvi, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, Dr Tariq Mahmood, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sadequain, Zahoorul Akhlaq and Ahmed Parvez. But the greatest heroes of Pakistan, to my mind, are the unsung ones; the ones that don’t make it to front page. These are the women and men who fight poverty and hardship, who toil through sweat and blood to give their children better lives, to remit money home for their families; their ailing parents. Heroes are the tiny kids walking rough terrain, rocky roads to school each day, mothers fighting poverty and discrimination yet persisting in the hope that their daughters would be better off than them. These are our heroes! Ace JournalistBefore joining bureaucracy, TDAP Secretary Rabiya Javeri-Agha worked as a journalist for Dawn. She has written over 300 articles on social, political and cultural issues. She has also authored and published research papers on Sufism and on the Afghan political and refugee crisis. Rights ActivistWhen posted as secretary for the Women’s Development Department (WDD) of Sindh, Rabiya-Javeri-Agha launched the legal aid committee for women in prison. She founded the women’s parliamentary caucus with the help of Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shahla Raza, and also worked on the bill regarding domestic violence and harassment in the workplace for women. She helped relocate Panah Shelter for women at old Darul Aman, Karachi. Achievements Empowering WomenRabiya holds the credit for vocational training of 1,200 girls in entrepreneurship, beautician and office management courses through the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme. Social WorkerShe also worked hard for the establishment of shelter homes across Sindh. Preserving Arts & CultureShe helped set up the Legend Fund under Sindh’s governor for financial assistance to ailing artists and musicians of Pakistan. She was successful in implementing the cultural documentation of art and crafts of Sindh through UNESCO.