On the picture, Sheila Turabaz, Uzma Rathore and Ambassador Shujjat Ali Rathore.
Introducing Mrs. Uzma Rathore, spouse of Mr. Shujjat Ali Rathore, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Netherlands.
By Sheila Turabaz.
During the third Diplomats Meet and Greet – co-organized by the Embassy of Pakistan in the Netherlands – all eyes were on H.E. Ambassador Mr. Shujjat Ali Rathore and his elegant wife in particular, Mrs. Uzma Rathore.
Mr. Rathore has recently been appointed as the Ambassador of Pakistan to the Netherlands and this edition of Diplomats Meet and Greet was not just to promote Pakistani culture and its trade relations with the Netherlands, but it also served as a first official introduction of the new ambassador to the diplomatic corps, international organizations, the business community and academia.
However, we must not forget the important role that diplomatic spouses fulfill in supporting their partner’s work and Mrs. Uzma Rathore is no exception: an eloquent and poised looking lady with a passion for education and a charitable mindset. I had the honour of interviewing Mrs. Rathore for the first time since her arrival here in the Netherlands, during which Mrs. Rathore underlined the importance of the responsibilities that diplomatic spouses perform in foreign missions.
The Ambassador recently presented his Letter of Credentials to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, and has already been very proactive in his role as Ambassador of Pakistan to the Netherlands. What was your first impression of the Netherlands and the diplomatic community in particular?
“I think the Netherlands is beautiful, its people in particular: they’re very humble, very polite and very welcoming. That was my first impression. Wherever I went, — shopping for groceries for instance on my second day here in the Netherlands — I found everyone with a smile on their face and a very welcoming attitude.”
What role should an ambassador’s spouse fulfill?
“I think an ambassador’s spouse has a very important role to fulfill: we are also ambassadors of our country and we represent our country, so whatever we do, portrays an image of our home country. Whether it’s social dinners, cultural events, charity work, and etcetera. The way we carry ourselves is very important being an ambassador’s wife: I represent Pakistan here. Whenever a person will come and meet me, he or she is meeting Pakistan.”
How do you plan to support the Ambassador in his duties and how would you like to be involved?
“I am an educationist by profession. During all foreign missions I continued to practice my profession. I am active as a patron of an organization called “Pakistani Ladies Organization in the Netherlands”. I consider women’s empowerment to be really important and I would like to support this organization in organizing cultural events. Furthermore, I would also like to do some charity work in the field of education. There are many NGOs active in Islamabad and I would like to organize fundraisings for these NGOs. I will support the Ambassador in all his duties, whether it’s organizing cultural events, fundraising events for the improvement of education in Pakistan, women’s empowerment, or various other activities aimed towards stimulating Pakistan’s economy and trade through promoting our businesses.”
Apart from supporting the Ambassador, do you have any personal ambitions that you would like to realize during your stay in the Netherlands?
“I would like to work again. I am a trained IB (International Baccalaureate) teacher. For example, I would love to organize a student exchange program with different universities in Pakistan and in the Netherlands”.
Most ambassadors’ spouses are involved in charity work, what is your perspective on this?
“I consider charity work to be important as well. As mentioned earlier, education and women’s rights are issues that are close to my heart. Unfortunately the literacy rate of females in Pakistan is very low, especially in rural areas. I would like to promote education and contribute to women’s empowerment by participating in various organizations dedicated to tackling these issues. Moreover, I am also a member of the Ambassador Spouses’ Association (ASA). We have a meeting scheduled this month and I’m looking forward to discuss my agenda with them.”
What do you miss most about Pakistan?
“Needless to say I miss my family – especially my daughters – and my friends of course. One of my daughters works for the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and lives in the U.S. and my other daughter lives in Pakistan and works as a public policy analyst. We (Pakistan) are a very hospitable nation, hospitality is in our blood. I am proud of our people, our cuisine, our national dress and all other aspects of our culture.”
Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?
“The embassy’s doors are open for everyone. Being an ambassador’s wife my duty is to welcome everyone. There is room for conversations and dialogue.”