ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on Thursday said he was “delighted” at the launch of the Pakistan edition of Arab News.
It is “a very welcome sign” of Pakistan’s “rebirth” over the last few years, he said at the launch ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
It is the “rebirth of our freedom as a nation that deserves to live in peace” after a “terrible ordeal of violent extremism that we faced a few years ago,” he added.
“There was a double jeopardy because this violent extremism was coupled with crippling energy shortages that practically brought Pakistan to a halt — a bloody and dark halt,” he said.
“Many industrialized countries issued some very crippling adviseries against travel to Pakistan, and many foreign airlines stopped flying to Pakistan. We were slowly, it seemed, cut off from the rest of the world,” Khan added.
“I see the launch of the Pakistan edition of Arab News as a sign of a more connected, peaceful, normal Pakistan,” he said.
“It has been a reemergence of Pakistan… after a dark period, for which the people of Pakistan have to be given the principal credit for their tremendous, and to me mind-boggling, resilience in the face of such odds,” he added.
The killing of 142 students at the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014 “is only one of the incidents that brought home to us the challenge that we face,” he said.
“In my current responsibility as minister of defense, I had the opportunity two days ago to meet some of the soldiers who were wounded in the Swat suicide bombing over the weekend… Their bodies were shattered… by that explosion (but) none of them spoke of pain or cried in pain. They were very stoic, very gallant,” Khan added.
“I kept imagining that they are just a dozen of nearly 20,000 soldiers who had been similarly mutilated and harmed over the past decade or so, not to mention the nearly 50,000 civilians who have been maimed and tortured,” he said.
“This peace we currently have has come at a great cost… therefore it is our duty as Pakistanis to preserve this peace so that our future generations do not have to go through that ordeal that we have just gone through. Inshallah (God willing) Pakistan is consolidating in many ways,” he added.
“Its stumbling democracy … seems to have stabilized. The economy has stabilized, although there is of course still a mountain to climb on that front to bring prosperity to the people,” he said.
“I am just delighted that the people and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who have been a steadfast partner of Pakistan throughout our existence, in a new and very interesting and exciting way through Arab News have decided to become part of this… rebirth of Pakistan,” Khan added.
“My congratulations to the Pakistan team that is launching this new edition. I commend the editors… of Arab News and its owners for taking this far-sighted decision to become part of the success story of Pakistan. Congratulations and I wish you success.”
For more photos from the event, click here.