Saudi National Day gels Pakistani expats with host community

In this undated photo, Dr. Khalid Abbas Asadi presents his book 'Pak-Saudi Friendship' to an educationist, Dr Abdul Hamid Al-Jahni, at the Ministry of Education, Madinah. (Photo Courtesy: Dr. Asadi)
Updated 21 September 2019

Saudi National Day gels Pakistani expats with host community

  • Saudis are generous and loyal friends, with profound love for Pakistanis, says distinguished Madinah based Dr. Asadi
  • Saudi-Pak relationship has strengthened under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, expat opines

ISLAMABAD: The decades-old bilateral and brotherly relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is rapidly widening into trade and economic cooperation under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said a distinguished Pakistani doctor practicing medicine in the Kingdom for more than three decades, ahead of the Saudi National Day festivities on Monday.
“Saudi Arabia has always extended economic cooperation to Pakistan to help strengthen its economy, besides providing jobs to tens of thousands of nationals of the South Asian state,” Dr. Khalid Abbas Asadi, who has served the renowned Dr. Hamid Sulaiman Al-Ahmadi Hospital in Madinah since 1986, told Arab News on Friday.
He said Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia were also preparing to participate in the festivities that have begun across the Kingdom to celebrate its 89th National Day. “We have planned a number of events here [at the hospital] and decorated the medical facility to celebrate the day with our patients and staff,” he said.
Saudis celebrate their National Day on September 23 every year to commemorate the renaming of the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz to Saudi Arabia by a royal decree from King Abdulaziz bin Saud in 1932. The day is celebrated with folk dances, songs and traditional festivals. Roads and buildings across the Kingdom are also decorated with Saudi flags and people wear green shirts to mark the occasion.
Pakistani expats along with people of other nationalities also celebrate the day out of respect and admiration for the country. “Saudi National Day is unique and special for Pakistani expats because we have decades-old spiritual and bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and dignity,” Asadi added.
The doctor, who has also written a lyrical book on Saudi Arabia’s ties with Pakistan, said that Pakistani expats would enjoy the National Day holidays and “get a chance to immerse in the local culture by attending different exhibitions and music concerts.”
Saudi Arabia has been one of the biggest job providers to Pakistanis. Nearly 5.3 million people from this country have served different sectors of the Kingdom’s economy since 1971.
Also, the Kingdom has been one of the top contributors to Pakistani remittances as Islamabad received $5 billion from Saudi Arabia out of a total inflow of $21.8 billion in 2018.
“I told Prime Minister Imran Khan that Saudi Arabia was a trusted and all-weather friend of Pakistan, and Islamabad should endeavor to get Saudi investment in oil and other sectors to support its ailing economy,” Asadi, who met the premier at Jeddah’s Royal Palace on Thursday, said.
He said the Saudi-Pak relations had taken a new turn under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, adding the measures taken by him could help the Kingdom become an economic superpower.
“Pakistan should become Saudi Arabia’s economic partner to boost its industry and create more job opportunities for the youth. This is besides getting the Kingdom’s support at international forums to highlight different issues, such as the Kashmir conflict,” the doctor suggested.
“The Saudis are generous and loyal friends,” he added. “They have profound love for Pakistan and Pakistanis.”

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.”