Bound by a common love of Italian food, Italian style and Italian culture, Secretary General Amnah Gul Muqri and Director Trade & Culture Fatima Zara Mallick, are the dynamic duo spearheading the development of the Italian Development Committee (IDC) in Pakistan.

Founded in 2009 under the patronage of ambassadors and Consul Generals to promote further trade and investment between Pakistan and Italy, the IDC is an independent body that currently serves as an Italian Chamber of Commerce in Pakistan.

“For the past year or so, we’ve been getting a lot of coverage from Italian companies looking to break into the Pakistani market,” says Amnah Gul Muqri, Secretary General of the IDC. “And that’s not surprising when you look at the opportunities you have here. But even in business there are certain cultural barriers that must be overcome first.”

The Italian Development Committee currently offers language classes, translation services, and provides consultancy to organizations focusing on the business sector.

“The thing is, there’s a huge language barrier,” says Fatima Zara Mallick, Director Trade & Culture at IDC. “The opportunities are limitless, but you need to be able to speak the language.”

It is for this reason that the IDC is currently focused on developing its cultural portfolio. In addition to language courses, the committee will organize cooking classes, Italian film screenings and various other cultural events.

“Right now the youth of Pakistan is our target demographic,” says Mallick. “With the language program there are countless educational opportunities in Italy that the Pakistani youth can greatly benefit from. And language classes are just the beginning…”

Operating under the umbrella of both the Italian and Pakistani governments, IDC is dedicated to nurturing the development of economic, social and cultural relations between these two great nations.

“Pakistan and Italy have a relationship that dates back nearly 50 years,” says Muhammad Haroon, Culture Coordinator for the Italian Consulate in Karachi. “Not a lot of people know this, but it was actually the Italians that facilitated the construction of the Tarbela Dam. Just recently I visited the northern areas of Gilgit Baltistan and I was shocked to see Italian and Pakistani flags side by side.”

Operating from three ‘command centers’ across Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad the IDC has carefully positioned itself to be at the forefront of promoting better ties between Italy and Pakistan.

“Today our focus is on the youth because honestly, they represent the future of Pakistan,” says Gul Muqri. “By imparting knowledge at an affordable rate, we hope to counsel and guide these students on how to plan for a better future.”

The duo state that the reason the IDC offers so many opportunities and so much room for growth is because they themselves are growing.

“While we currently have three offices in Pakistan, our goal is to develop the infrastructure to make IDC sustainable,” says Muqri “We do match making, market research, sector analysis. We manage delegations — take delegations there; bring delegations back. There are currently 81 chambers in 55 countries. So it really is a great network to be a part of!”