Beyond diplomacy - UAE envoy helps Pakistan’s unprivileged during Ramadan

UAE Ambassador, Hamad Obaid Alzaabi hands over newly built home in Islamabad to Pakistani fruit-seller and widow, Yasmin, as part of UAE's philanthropic efforts in Pakistan. May 4, 2019 (UAE Embassy photo)
Updated 12 May 2019

Beyond diplomacy - UAE envoy helps Pakistan’s unprivileged during Ramadan

  • Says ‘I am doing this from my heart for the people of Pakistan’
  • The envoy gifted a house to a female fruit seller and a paralyzed Pakistani man

ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates on Friday hosted a grand iftar feast for diplomats, officials, media and affluent Pakistanis, but Ambassador Hamd Ubaid Ibrahim, who gained a lot of popularity in Pakistan owing to his philanthropic activities ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, told Arab News that his efforts to help the poor in this country were just beginning.
Ibrahim recently gifted a fully furnished house to a widowed fruit seller in Islamabad, making social media users in Pakistan praise him for his generosity. He also gifted a double-story, four-bedroom house to a paralyzed man from Kashmir who lost his abode in a devastating earthquake in October 2005.
The embassy has also launched its annual Ramadan iftar food distribution drive in Pakistan for the needy people supported by the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation.

Several special Pakistani athletes, funded by the UAE government, were able to participate in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in February, a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Pakistan and the UAE also share deep-rooted cultural affinities and faith. For many Pakistanis, the UAE is a second home. Pakistan was the first country that extended recognition to the UAE in 1971, and its expatriates in that Gulf state have contributed significantly to Dubai’s commercial growth.
Recently, Pakistan also received a $3 billion relief package from the UAE to stave off its balance-of-payments crisis. Pakistani officials say strategic ties with the UAE are on an upward trajectory, bringing the two countries and their people still closer together.

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.”