“To be a diplomat is not only to promote one’s home country abroad, it is also to learn about the host country,” said a foreign ambassador at one of the recent meetings organised by the Asian Study Group (ASG).
Currently, Australian High Commissioner Peter Hayward is ASG’s patron. He and his wife Susan are prominent members of the cultural and social environment of the capital. But president of ASG is Parveen Malik, a teacher, born and bred in Islamabad, working with a number of volunteers, including elected chairs of various sub-groups. Last week, Harris Khalique, a recognised writer and columnist, was the popular speaker at the ASG Literature Group.
ASG began in 1973 as a group for foreign diplomats’ wives. Now it has widened its membership to several hundred and almost as many men as women, foreigners and locals alike. “It is a great opportunity to learn about Pakistan’s culture, to go on group excursions and attend international cooking session,” said Khalida Babree, a teacher and widow of a professor and writer.
“Foreign diplomats and others like to learn about Pakistan when they live here. But also Pakistanis need to be reminded of what a fantastic country we have,” she says.
Oxbridge Society is another important organisation catering for the international and local community with its monthly Oxbridge Lectures held in style with top speakers. Last week, Sartaj AzizNewspaper.Islamabad:LatestNews, adviser to the prime minister of security and foreign affairs, spoke about Afghanistan’s future and the country’s relations with Pakistan.
“There were 49 ambassadors in the audience and many other expatriate and local dignitaries, some of them retired and others in active service,” said Irshadullah Khan, the coordinator of Oxbridge, with his wife Hoshi, who hails from Iran.
“I enjoy organising the lectures,” said Irshadullah Khan, adding that it also gives him an opportunity to express his own opinions.
“For us diplomats, lectures and cultural events are invaluable. They make us understand more about the host country,” said a young foreign diplomat.
Published in Dawn January 26th , 2015