By: Our Correspondent
Mid–September, Week 38 of the 2019 calendar, was a very active time for diplomats. It was a ‘high season of national days’ with no less than four such events celebrated in Islamabad. There was also a Brazilian food festival and a music and dance evening for young and old. The Italian Embassy held a fund raising dinner in support of handicapped children. The Czech Embassy showed a film and held a discussion about gender issues, and Alliance Francaise had its monthly film evening at PNCA.
The Brazilian Ambassador Claudio Lins performed the kick off of the week’s events at his country’s national day when he tried to send the football in the net. His wife was more successful and could list a score to her achievements. A guest joked about that next year, the ambassadors should be goal keepers and the locals should have the pleasure of kicking the ball.
Ambassador Lins and the chief guest Shafqat Mahmood, Minister of Education and Professional Training, spoke warmly about the importance of investing more in education for Pakistan to prosper. The current government aims at doubling investment in education from two percent to four percent of GDP. Vocational and skills training shall be given attention as well as literacy for youth and adults.
The 28th Ukraine Independence Day, hosted by Ambassador Volodymyr Lakomov was celebrated in grand style with several top Pakistani guests on the podium, including Syeda Abida Hussain, a former ambassador to USA, and her husband, chief guest Syed Fakhar Imam, who is the chairman of the important Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir. Special recognition was bestowed upon the American and British envoys, underlining Ukraine pursuing Western alliances rather than those of the former Soviet Union states (CIS). The conflict of Russian’s annexation of Ukraine is unresolved. The chief Guest, Syed Fakhar Imam underlined the potential of cooperation between Pakistan and Ukraine, in fields like trade, education and defence. The ambassador had drawn attention to Ukraine’s fast development in recent years.
Nepal celebrated its national day, too, hosted by Sewa Lamsal, one of the few female envoys to Pakistan. She has served in Pakistan for several years, and her two daughters, well into their teens, have attended school and college in Islamabad. This year, only the youngest was able to attend. In her speech, Ambassador Sewa Lamsal emphasized the importance of the new constitution of Nepal, giving women thirty percent of the seats in the national assembly, and an even higher representation at regional and local levels. She called for closer cooperation with Pakistan. Chief guest was Zartaj Gul Wazir, State Minister of Climate Change. Also, former PM Yousaf Raza Gillani attended the event.
Afghanistan also celebrated its national day in Week 38, during the ‘high season of diplomatic events’. It was held at a time when the Afghanistan prepares for general election – and it struggles to find grounds for a peaceful agreement between the Western-supported rulers and the Taliban. Neighbouring Pakistan will benefit much from sustainable peace in Afghanistan. A guest at the event said that she thought it was a shortcoming of all involved, indeed the Western powers, to have left Afghanistan at war for two decades, all the time since 9/11. “In our time, we must be able to find other solutions to conflict than war. I hope those who are young today, will have learnt and never make the same mistakes as we who are getting old made. Peace is is the only way ahead”, she said.