‘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.


Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

Updated 24 March 2019
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Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

  • British politics is at fever pitch and nearly three years since the 2016 Brexit referendum
  • With Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers insist she and the British government are still in charge of the country

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union was in disarray on Sunday as Prime Minister Theresa May faced a possible plot by ministers to topple her and parliament prepared to grab control of Brexit from the government.
At one of the most important junctures for the country since World War Two, British politics was at fever pitch and, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.
With May humiliated and weakened, ministers insisted she and the British government were still in charge of the country, and that the best option was still for parliament to ratify May’s twice-defeated Brexit divorce deal.
As hundreds of thousands of people marched across central London on Saturday to demand another Brexit referendum, May was the subject of what The Sunday Times said was a “coup” by senior ministers seeking to oust her.
The newspaper cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has “gone haywire.”
When asked by Sky about reports in The Sunday Times and other newspapers of a plot and whether she had run out of road, finance minister Philip Hammond said: “No. I don’t think that is the case at all.”
“Changing prime minister wouldn’t help us,” Hammond said. “To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time.”
Hammond said the best way forward would be for parliament to back May’s deal, although he said that it might not be approved and so parliament should then try to find a way to end the impasse.
“I’m realistic that we may not be able to get a majority for the prime minister’s (Brexit) deal and if that is the case then parliament will have to decide not just what it’s against but what it is for,” he said.
Brexit had been due to happen on March 29 before May secured a delay in talks with the EU on Thursday.
Now a May 22 departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister and she is able to pass her deal. If she fails to do so, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the EU without a treaty.
Some lawmakers have asked May to name her departure date as the price for supporting her deal, though it was unclear when a third vote might take place.
If May’s deal is dead, then parliament will try to find a different option. That opens an array of options including a much softer divorce than May had intended, a referendum, a revocation of the Article 50 divorce papers or even an election.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said May’s deal was the best option and urged people to get behind the prime minister.
“The government and the prime minister are in charge,” Barclay said. May went to her usual church service near her Chequers country residence on Sunday with her husband.
The Sunday Times reported that May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, was one contender to be interim prime minister but others are pushing for Environment Secretary Michael Gove or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“I don’t think that I have any wish to take over from the PM, I think (she) is doing a fantastic job,” Lidington told reporters outside his house.
“One thing that working closely with the prime minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task,” he quipped.
Lawmakers are due on Monday to debate a government motion saying parliament has considered a statement made by May on March 15 which set out the government’s next steps on Brexit, including the plan to seek a delay.
They are likely to propose changes, or amendments, to this motion setting out alternative ways forward on Brexit. These are expected to include a proposal to approve May’s deal only if it is put to a public vote.
While amendments are not legally binding, instead simply exerting political pressure on May to change course, lawmakers could use one to attempt to change the rules of parliament to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government.
A British election could be the consequence of parliament seizing control of the Brexit process if lawmakers back proposals contrary to the pledges the government was elected on, Barclay said.