Federal Minister for Housing and Works Riaz Hussain Pirzada cuts cake with Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, ISPR Director General Major General Ahmed Sharif and Ambassador of Portugal Manuel Frederico Pinheiro da Silva in Islamabad on Monday. — White Star
Federal Minister for Housing and Works Riaz Hussain Pirzada cuts cake with Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, ISPR Director General Major General Ahmed Sharif and Ambassador of Portugal Manuel Frederico Pinheiro da Silva in Islamabad on Monday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Portugal marked its 885th anniversary on Monday, celebrating a rich history that dated back to 1139.

Diplomats and local guests congratulated Ambassador of Portugal in Islamabad Manuel Frederico Pinheiro da Silva who hosted a reception to mark Portugal’s National Day.

Minister for Housing and Works Riaz Peerzada was the chief guest. The westernmost country of Europe, Portugal faced the Atlantic Ocean and had played a pivotal role in global exploration and international relations over the centuries.

Ambassador of Portugal Manuel Frederico Pinheiro da Silva reflected on the nation’s historical journey. “In the 17th century, God gave the Portuguese a small country as their cradle, but the entire world as their grave,” he remarked, highlighting Portugal’s expansive influence.

After three centuries of defining and solidifying its institutions, territory, and cultural identity, Portugal embarked on a new adventure in 1415. Portuguese fleets began establishing maritime routes that would connect them to every continent. They were the first Europeans to pass the equator and circumnavigate the African continent. In 1498, under Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to reach the Indian subcontinent by sea. They also pioneered sea routes to Java, Thailand, Japan, China, and even viewed Australia for the first time. In the Americas, they reached Brazil, the Portuguese envoy informed his guests.

Ambassador da Silva also highlighted Portugal’s progress over the past 50 years, since the country began its era of democracy and development in 1974. “Today, Portugal is recognized as one of the safest and most secure countries in the world, benefiting from significant economic and social advancements.”

Addressing current international issues, the ambassador reaffirmed Portugal’s stance on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine as a dangerous precedent that must be stopped.

“Regarding Gaza, Portugal strongly condemns the ongoing offensive in Rafah and is deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation,” the ambassador said emphasizing the importance of recognizing the Palestinian state and the crucial role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Ambassador da Silva also spoke about the longstanding bilateral relations between Portugal and Pakistan. Since his arrival in February last year, he had traveled extensively across Pakistan, visiting cities such as Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Murree, Abbottabad, Chilas, and Gilgit-Baltistan. He praised the beautiful nature, historical and cultural diversity, and the architectural and urban monuments of Pakistan. However, he noted that the most impactful impression came from the warm hospitality of the Pakistani people.

In terms of future cooperation, the ambassador highlighted key areas of mutual interest including renewable energy, water management, education and culture, trade, and investments. He also highlighted support for Pakistan’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Portugal’s celebration of its 885th anniversary was not just a reflection on its storied past, but a recognition of its ongoing journey towards progress and international cooperation.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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