Syria-Pakistan relations

Published Jul 28, 2012 01:11am

PAKISTAN’s ties with Syria had nose-dived after Gen Zia hanged prime minister Z.A. Bhutto. Syrian President Hafez Al Assad had urged Zia to spare the elected prime minister’s life. President Assad took serious offence to Zia’s rejection of his plea.

I presented my credentials in early 1982, at a time when our ties with Syria had hit rock bottom. After the hijacking of a PIA Boeing-707 by Al Zulfiqar militants to Damascus, Syria treated the hijackers as state guests.

Ties with Syria were bad when a delegation led by our defence secretary-general Maj-Gen Rahim Khan landed in Damascus to negotiate the return of the hijacked aircraft and passengers.

The delegation was ill-treated, with Damascus siding with the hijackers who demanded release of Al-Zulfiqar detainees in Pakistani jails.

Ambassador Maj-Gen Sarfraz Khan was recalled, and I was sent to Damascus with the mandate to normalise relations.

During the next five years relations with Syria were normalised. The PIA aircraft and passengers were returned after 150 Al-Zulfiqar militants arrived in Damascus.

Later on President Zia was able to visit Syria and had a one-to-one meeting with President Assad.

A number of trade and cultural protocols were signed. I organised an international seminar on Dr Allama Iqbal’s revolutionary poetry in the prestigious Assad library. Papers were read by renowned Arab and Iranian scholars. I established Pakistan International School in Damascus in 1982. It is now one of the most prestigious Pakistani education institutions abroad.

President Assad was concerned about the political instability in Pakistan. During an audience the Syrian president said: “Had Pakistan adopted Arabic, the language of the Quran, as the national language, the lingual rifts and political divisions and anarchy would not have occurred. Pakistan would have remained a united country.”

I reported this to the government and to President Zia.

President Assad ruled with an iron fist. He promoted relations with Moscow, established socialist dictatorship, armed the Allawite minority, which comprised 10 per cent of the population, but discriminated and was unjust towards the 80 per cent Sunni population.

His policy of confronting Israel, and his steadfast policy for the return of Arab land annexed by Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, earned him few friends in the West.

The Sunni population feels it has been discriminated against, and has risen in armed revolt against tyranny.

All cities, towns and localities which have risen in revolt have been destroyed. Hundreds of Syrians have fled to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. The situation now is out of hand.

After the death of six top generals and cabinet ministers in Free Syrian Army’s attack on the National Security Headquarters, the situation now is out of hand. Syria's future is bleak.

AYAZ AHMED KHAN Former ambassador to Syria


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Physicians & patriarchy

THIS is with reference to Rafia Zakaria’s article ‘Physicians and patriarchy’. At face value, you cannot but...

HCV: oral drug

The news carried in your paper of Nov 21 about the availability of an oral drug for the treatment of Hepatitis C...

Pemra rules & channels

ACCORDING to Rule 24 (4) of Pemra Rules 2002, the duration of advertisement breaks in TV programmes shall not be ...

Comments (4) Closed




bilal
Jul 28, 2012 05:57pm
good update, the formal relationships have never been on a track , do we need to work on this ?????????????????? if some one can put me wise on subj
VaporDragon
Jul 28, 2012 10:03pm
Like all brutal dictators, the late Hafez al-Assad had certain elements of mental instability. Why would Pakistan adopt Arabic as its national language? Pakistanis are not Arabs. Pakistanis are a completely different group of people. Pakistan has a national language already. It is called Urdu. I would say that Arab countries are certainly not a model for Pakistan to emulate, whether politically or economically. The ongoing tragedy in Syria is a sad testament to the inability of the present Syrian leadership to see that their people do not want them in power and that it is time for them to depart the scene.
akhter husain
Jul 28, 2012 11:49pm
All what is being witnessed these days is nothing but the "Birth Pang Of New Middle East"as miss Rice had said.Thing are bound to settle down sooner or later.
kharal
Jul 29, 2012 12:25am
Syria is a bad example for all states and the people have been suffering like in other countries egypt,libya A new peoples government can be of good use for middle east and turkey as a neighbor