‘Generous support’ from Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan after nuclear tests, says diplomat

Bahrullah Hazarvi, who served in Saudi Arabia for 23 years in different capacities, shows his book on King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud that was published in 1997. The book is available in libraries and Islamic centers of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in English, Urdu and Arabic languages.
Updated 17 February 2019
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‘Generous support’ from Saudi Arabia helped Pakistan after nuclear tests, says diplomat

  • Pakistan got KSA's backing as it prepared for its first nuclear tests in May 1998, says diplomat
  • Bahrullah Hazarvi worked in Saudi Arabia for more than three decades in a number of diplomatic positions.

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has helped Pakistan in many ways over the years. One notable example of this, according to a Pakistani diplomat and author who was present during the discussions, was the generous support and encouragement the Kingdom offered Islamabad as Pakistan prepared for its first nuclear tests in May 1998.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on the telephone before the nuclear tests and received his full-fledged support,” said Bahrullah Hazarvi, who was the interpreter during the conversation. Pakistan’s first nuclear test, on May 28, 1998, was a direct response to arch rival India’s second round of nuclear tests on May 11 and 13.

“The generous support of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries at the time encouraged Pakistan to give a befitting response to India,” he added.

Hazarvi worked in Saudi Arabia for more than three decades in a number of diplomatic positions and also wrote a book on the life of King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was published in 1997 in English, Arabic and Urdu.

His first posting to Saudi Arabia, in June 1977, was as a coordination officer in Pakistan’s consulate general in Jeddah. He continued to work there until he retired 2010, by which time he was director of Hajj. He is currently working on a new book documenting his experience and life in Saudi Arabia.

Hazarvi’s long stay in the Kingdom and grasp of Arabic allowed him to study many aspects of the lives of the Saudi people and their rulers, including King Salman. He was also frequently called upon to serve as an interpreter for Saudi dignitaries and officials during visits to Pakistan. He carried out this role in 1998, for example, when King Salman, who at the time was still a prince, held official meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other dignitaries during a seven-day visit to Pakistan.

Recalling his motivation to write a book about the life of the Kingdom’s founder, Hazarvi said: “King Abdul Aziz’s love for peace and Muslims all over the world inspired me to write the book. It is a kind of tribute to his services for Muslims.”

In the book, he describes the king as a great leader, known for “forthright expression of pure and clear faith,” who always appreciated the “loyalty and sincerity” of his people.

“We only want one system and that is the system bestowed upon us by Allah, and our only endeavor is to establish peace on this land,” King Abdul Aziz told a large gathering of pilgrims in 1925.

The author also praises the king for his decision in 1952 to abolish Hajj fees for pilgrims.

“This was considered a very great achievement and to this day the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not charge any fee from pilgrims,” Hazarvi writes in his book, which features a preface from Pakistan’s former president Farooq Leghari.

The author notes that the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia had grown from 1.5 million in 1980s to 2.1 million in 1990s and wrote: “Pakistanis enjoy all basic rights in Saudi Arabia…and send huge remittances back home every year to support their families and contribute to the prosperity of the country.”

Hazarvi said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan is evidence of his love for the people of Pakistan. “He has emerged as a visionary leader of Saudi Arabia and this visit will further strengthen the bilateral relationship,” he said.


India’s Modi set to return to power with a bigger majority, exit polls show

An Indian election officer (R) marks the finger of a voter at a polling centre on the outskirts of Amritsar on May 19, 2019, during the 7th and final phase of India's general election. (AFP)
Updated 8 min 8 sec ago
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India’s Modi set to return to power with a bigger majority, exit polls show

  • Modi visited West Bengal 17 times in an effort to make inroads with his Hindu nationalist agenda, provoking sporadic violence and prompting the Election Commission to cut off campaigning there
  • Indian television channels have had a mixed record in the past in predicting election results

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to return to power with an even bigger majority in parliament after a mammoth general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls showed, a far better showing than expected in recent weeks.
Modi faced criticism early on in the campaign for failing to create jobs and for weak farm prices, and analysts as well as politicians said the election race was tightening with the main opposition Congress party gaining ground.
But he rallied his Hindu nationalist base and turned the campaign into a fight for national security after tensions rose with Pakistan and attacked his main rival for being soft on the country’s arch foe.
Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anything between 339-365 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament with the Congress party-led opposition alliance at a distant 77 to 108, India Today Axis exit poll showed.
To rule, a party needs to win 272 seats. Modi’s alliance won 336 seats in the 2014 election. The exit polls showed that he not only held to this base in the northern Hindi belt but also breached the east where regional groups traditionally held sway.
Only the south largely resisted the Hindu nationalist surge, except for Karnataka, home to software capital Bengaluru.
Counting of votes recorded in hundreds of thousands of computerised machines will begin early on Thursday and results are expected by noon.
According to another poll released by Todays Chanakya, Modi’s alliance is likely to get around 350 seats. One poll by Neta Newsx, though, forecast Modi’s group falling 30 seats short.
Exit polls, though, have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900 million people — around two-thirds of whom voted in the seven-phase election. They have often gotten the number of seats wrong, but the broad direction has generally been correct, analysts say.
With three out of four of the polls indicating a clear majority for Modi’s alliance, Indian equity markets are expected to rally sharply on Monday, while the Indian rupee is also likely to strengthen versus the US dollar, according to market participants.
A clear win would mean Modi can carry out reforms investors expect to make India an easier place for doing business, they said.
“I expect a positive reaction from markets on both the rupee and equities,” said Sajal Gupta, head of forex and rates at Indian brokerage firm Edelweiss Securities.
“Equity indices should have a rally of maybe 250-300 points,” said Gupta, adding the Indian rupee may test the 69 level against the US dollar before retreating.

HINDU HARDLINE FEARS
But a big win for Modi would fan fears that Hindu hard-liner groups would be further emboldened to pursue partisan programs such as punishing Muslims for the slaughter of cows, considered sacred by Hindus, rewriting school textbooks to reduce India’s Muslim history and attack liberals.
Critics say Modi sought to win votes by stoking fear among the Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the country’s Muslims and Pakistan, and promoted a Hindu-first India.
But his supporters say Modi and his allies are simply restoring Hinduism to its rightful place at the core of Indian society. Muslims make up about 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population.
“The massive crowds and response at every rally of Prime Minister Modi were a clear indicator of their approval for his leadership, the performance of the past five years and the vision for the future,” Nalin Kohli, a spokesman of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said.
Dilip Agrawal, 46, who runs a mill in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said he had voted for Modi, despite the difficulties faced by farmers.
“He is doing so much for our country, our national security. Of course farmers want better rates than they are getting, that’s only natural. Only a strong leader can meet our aspirations, and Modi is that leader.”

GANDHI LOSS
The Congress pary led by Rahul Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that ruled India for decades following independence, focused on Modi’s failure to deliver on the promises he made to transform the economy and turn India into a manufacturing hub.
Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha dismissed the poll projections, saying that an alliance led by his party would defeat the BJP when votes are counted on May 23.
“Many of the pollsters, if not all of the pollsters, have got it wrong,” he said, adding that a polarized atmosphere and fear had kept voters from telling pollsters about their actual allegiance.
Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal state and a bitter opponent of Modi, said the fight was not over.
“I don’t trust exit poll gossip,” she said on Twitter. “I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together.”
Voting began on April 11 and ended on Sunday in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.
Although Modi’s party is poised to lose seats in northern Uttar Pradesh, which elects the most lawmakers out of all Indian states, the party’s return to power will be on the back of a strong showing in other northern heartland regions and two eastern provinces, CVoter’s polling showed.