Cuba Ambassador to Pakistan Zéner Caro on Monday called out Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal for his “disrespectful” remarks on Cuba, given during a press conference in Lahore yesterday.

At a media talk on Sunday, Iqbal had said that Pakistan wanted to become a strong country for which it needed a strong economy and positioning with the global economy.

He said he did not want Pakistan to turn into Cuba or North Korea. “We have to set Pakistan on the path of [development, like] Malaysia, Turkey, China and South Korea,” the minister had added.

Responding to Iqbal’s comments today, Caro tweeted, “Fortunately, Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s disrespectful mention of Cuba in his press conference in Lahore does not represent and has nothing to do with Pakistanis’ true respect and deep affection for Cuba.”

Earlier, journalists and activists on Twitter had also criticised the minister for his remarks, recalling Cuba’s support for Pakistan in tough times.

Zebunnisa Burki, a journalist, said someone needed to explain basic history to Iqbal. “He seems to think Cuba = North Korea,” she added.

Another journalist Murtaza Solangi remarked that Pakistan would always remain “grateful to the heroic people of Cuba”.

Meanwhile, activist Ammar Ali Jan demanded an apology from Iqbal.

Following the Cuban ambassador’s tweet, the federal minister took to Twitter and clarified that his remarks were “only in the context of foreign policy”.

“We have deep respect for the people of Cuba and our deep affectionate relations with Cuba,” Iqbal said, adding that Pakistan couldn’t forget how Cuban doctors played a heroic role during the aftermath of 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.


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