ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Tuesday welcomed the Iranian gesture of putting up greeting billboards on major roads in its cities and running greeting messages on advertising screens in metro trains on the occasion of Pakistan’s 71st Independence Day.
“We welcome it. Iran is our brother and time-tested neighbour,” FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said while commenting on the display of greeting messages on billboards in the Iranian capital Tehran and Mashhad, the country’s second most populous city. Also metro trains in Iran carried greeting messages in their announcements and on advertising screens.
“It is the first time that any foreign country’s national day is being celebrated in Iran at this scale,” said press counsellor at Pakistan embassy in Iran, Birj Lal Dossani, in a text message from Tehran. The greeting messages were displayed on the special instructions of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Greeting messages with Pakistan landmarks and map displayed in metro trains, on roads of Tehran, Mashhad
The Iranian gesture reflects the turnaround in the relations after decades of frostiness. The repair in ties is attributed to Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa who, soon after assuming the command, started a special outreach to Iran and later visited Tehran. It was a rare trip by a Pakistani army chief to the neighbouring country. Iran’s Chief of General Staff Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri also visited Pakistan last month. Besides, Iran’s intelligence chief separately visited Islamabad in July for a quadrilateral meeting on growing Daesh threat, which also involved Russia and China.
In a statement issued from Tehran, Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood said: “Several posters placed on billboards in Tehran and Mashhad with congratulatory message of Iran’s supreme leader on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day … is a sign of deep Pakistan-Iran friendship”.
A significant feature of the messages was that they carried pictures of landmarks of all Pakistani provinces and the displayed map showed India-held Kashmir as part of Pakistani territory.
Dr Faisal said it was time India immediately stopped human rights violations in the Kashmir valley and allowed the visit of Commission of Inquiry from Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to verify the facts on the ground.
Last year Ayatollah Khamenei had renewed Iran’s strong support for Kashmir cause and then made a few statements on the atrocities in India-held Kashmir. In one of the recent statements, he said helping Kashmiris was one of the “great responsibilities” on the shoulders of Muslim world leaders.
The national day reception hosted by the Pakistan embassy in Tehran was attended by Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Majlis Alaeddin Boroujerdi, deputy ministers for defence, interior and trade, members of Iranian parliament and other high-ranking civil and military officials.
‘Peaceful ties with India’
At a ceremony organised by Pakistan’s High Commission in India, High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood said peaceful relations with all neighbours, including India, were accorded high priority in the foreign policy vision outlined by the incoming leadership of Pakistan.
He hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s felicitations call to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan as “another positive development”. He expressed the hope that such gestures from both sides would create the space for improvement in Pakistan-India ties. He recalled that political and military tensions between the two countries prevented them from realising their optimal potential for socio-economic development. “Our next generations deserve a better future — one marked by peace and opportunities for progress and prosperity,” he said.
Mr Mehmood expressed the hope that South Asia would turn a corner and would be known in the world, not for confrontation, but for cooperation.
Flag-hoisting in UAE
Flag-hoisting ceremonies were held on the premises of the Pakistan embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate general of Pakistan in Dubai.
Ambassador to the UAE Moazzam Ahmad Khan said the day was being celebrated with the conviction that it would be a harbinger of political, economic and social stability. He said it should also be considered as a day of introspection and to ponder over as to how energies could be redirected to the development of Pakistan to be able to stand tall among the comity of nations.
Referring to the role of the Pakistani community in the UAE, the ambassador appreciated their contribution in the UAE’s development and the role they were playing in supporting the national economy and improving ties between Pakistan and the UAE.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2018