Indian Republic Day observed in capital

High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, Minister of State Ali Mohammad Khan, chief of the diplomatic corps and Saarc envoys at the Indian Republic Day reception in Islamabad.
High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, Minister of State Ali Mohammad Khan, chief of the diplomatic corps and Saarc envoys at the Indian Republic Day reception in Islamabad.

Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and his wife Bharati Chaturvedi hosted a large Republic Day dinner reception in Islamabad Serena Hotel last week.

A film documenting the history of the partition and a photo exhibition featuring pictures of Mahatma Gandhi were also part of the event.

The chief guest at the event was Ali Mohammad Khan, minister of state for parliamentary affairs.

“The conversation and food were excellent,” said a Pakistani couple whose parents had chosen to move to Pakistan after independence.

They said they are Pakistanis but they feel there is something special about their backgrounds and that they think of New Delhi as home in many ways as well.

They couple said many of their relatives had chosen to remain in India and that they were still in contact with them.

“I hope that our politicians, civil servants and military keep relations good between the two countries.

“We must be pragmatic and increase trade and people-to-people contact”, said a retired Pakistani diplomat.

“We will both be more prosperous if we stay level-headed”, said another Pakistani guest.

Chinese envoy speaks at ESU

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaks at ESU.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing speaks at ESU.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing was a particularly popular guest speaker at the English Speaking Union (ESU) last week. Most of ESU’s members came along with over a dozen ambassadors and other diplomats, and other guests invited for the event.

Ambassador Yao Jing focused on China’s role in the region, with emphasis on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He explained that China has had unprecedented growth and development for over a generation. He said: “It is important that the neighbouring countries, too, become part of China’s development, so that they and China can all benefit from it.”

He spoke about CPEC projects in Gwadar, Quetta and elsewhere in Balochistan, and he spoke about the work in the northern areas and KP.

He stressed that the social sectors were given attention, with investments in hospitals, vocational training and water provision in Balochistan.

Romanian ambassador hosts reception

Romanian envoy Nicolae Goia and the EU Ambassador Jean Francois Cautain mark Romania’s take-over as President of the European Union Council.
Romanian envoy Nicolae Goia and the EU Ambassador Jean Francois Cautain mark Romania’s take-over as President of the European Union Council.

Romanian Ambassador Nicolae Goia and staff welcomed guests to a large reception last week to celebrate Romania resuming the presidency of the European Union Council for the next six months. The presidency rotates among the EU members and this is the first time that Romania has been given the honour.

Although Ambassador Goia several times in his speech used humour to keep the audience attentive, he underlined that “it is not just an honour to hold the presidency, it is a heavy duty”.

He said that there are several challenges, including finance and budget issues, and certainly Britain’s planned exit from the Union.

The motto of the Romania’s mandate is: ‘Cohesion, a common European value’, and it will focus on four pillars: 1. Europe of convergence; 2. A safer Europe; 3. Europe, a stronger global actor; 4. Europe of common values.

The attentive audience was also addressed by EU Ambassador Jean Francois Cautain and the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zaheer Aslam Janjua.

Then it was time for cake-cutting and photo ops with all the EU ambassadors on stage along with other dignitaries. The national anthems of Romania and Pakistan were played, and also the anthem of the European Union.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2019

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