Saudi Crown Prince arrives in Islamabad today

Workers are putting up welcome banners and decorating the roads here in Islamabad as a part of a celebratory welcome for the Saudi Crown Prince. (AN)
Updated 17 February 2019

Saudi Crown Prince arrives in Islamabad today

  • He will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation, including members of the Saudi royal family
  • Elaborate arrangements have been made in the federal capital to accord an unprecedentedly warm welcome 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan eagerly awaits the arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is set to arrive in Islamabad today on a two-day official visit to Pakistan upon the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. 
The crown prince will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation, including members of the Saudi royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen. 
This will be the first official visit of the dignitary to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of crown prince in April 2017. During his visit, he will meet President Dr. Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. A delegation of Pakistan’s Senate will also call on the crown prince and discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.
During his stay, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will sign a number of agreements and MoUs in diverse sectors including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports. The two countries will also discuss ways and means to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation.
The Saudi ministers accompanying the crown prince will meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.
Meanwhile, elaborate arrangements have been made in the federal capital to accord a rousing and unprecedentedly warm welcome to crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his entourage upon their arrival into Pakistan. 
Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhry told reporters in Islamabad on Friday that the government has finalized arrangements to welcome the crown prince and that Prime Minister Imran Khan would personally receive him at Nur Khan Airbase.
“A fleet of Pakistan Air Force jets would escort his airplanes as they enter the country’s airspace. The crown prince would be given a 21 gun salute at the airport,” Pakistan’s state run news agency APP quoted Chaudhry.
Big portraits of the crown prince, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi have been erected on Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. Banners and posters inscribed with slogans of Pak-Saudi friendship and fraternity have also been put on display along the roads. 
Pakistan’s top government and opposition party officials have also released warm welcome messages for the Saudi crown prince.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly and President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Shehbaz Sharif, who has longstanding ties with the Saudi royal family, welcomed the crown prince’s visit on twitter.
In a tweet released by his official party page, Sharif said that the economic relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was in the interests of both the countries and of the Muslim Ummah.
In a statement, former President Asif Ali Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party [PPP] said the party and the Bhutto family welcomed the prince’s visit and expressed hope for further improvement in bilateral relations, calling Saudi Arabia, “a very creditable and respectable friend of our country and its people.”
“Saudi Arabia has always stood by Pakistan in moments of need and will hopefully continue to do so,” he said.

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”