Foreign office aims to show 'true face' of Pakistan through music diplomacy

Special Qawwali singers perform at the launch of Pakistan's new public diplomacy initiative in Islamabad on Thursday. (AN photo)
Qawwali singers perform at the launch of Pakistan's new public diplomacy initiative in Islamabad on Thursday. (AN photo)
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Updated 10 July 2021

Foreign office aims to show 'true face' of Pakistan through music diplomacy

Qawwali singers perform at the launch of Pakistan's new public diplomacy initiative in Islamabad on Thursday. (AN photo)
  • Cultural diplomacy initiative kicked off in Islamabad with night of Sufi music in collaboration with music platform Coke Studio
  • Foreign minister Qureshi plans to hold future events at Dubai Expo 2020 and an Overseas Festival in Lahore in December

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan kicked off a new cultural diplomacy initiative in Islamabad on Thursday with a night of devotional Sufi qawwali in collaboration with popular music platform Coke Studio, with the foreign minister saying he aimed to project the ‘true face’ of Pakistan by showcasing its rich music traditions home and abroad.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi hosted the musical night on the lawns of the foreign office to share his vision of Pakistan’s “cultural diplomacy footprint,” with an event planned at the Dubai Expo 2020 in October and an Overseas Festival to be held in Lahore in December.

“In October in collaboration, with Expo 2020, I will be holding another function in Dubai where we will showcase Pakistan’s economic potential, economic opportunities,” Qureshi told Arab News. “Then hopefully in December, we will invite high achievers from the diaspora, our overseas Pakistanis from Europe, America, Canada and other places, to come be part of our Overseas Festival in which we will connect the diaspora and see how they can contribute towards Pakistan’s economic growth and how they can be the true ambassadors of Pakistan.”

Thursday’s event was a first of its kind collaboration between the foreign office and Coke Studio, a Pakistani TV show that features live studio-recorded performances by celebrated and emerging artists. It is widely called one of Pakistan’s “greatest cultural exports.”

“Through these events and our initiatives, we are projecting Pakistan’s true face through cultural diplomacy, connecting people through digital diplomacy, and promoting Pakistan’s economy through economic diplomacy,” Qureshi said.

In his keynote address, the foreign minister spoke about the importance of cultural diplomacy and the powerful impact it has on shaping global narratives and perceptions.

Coke Studio’s latest coffee table book, “Beyond the Wave,” an exploration of Pakistan’s musical history, was also launched at the event.

The musical performers of the evening were famed qawwal kings Abu Muhammed and Fareed Ayaz, both constants on Coke Studio.

The choice of qawalli as the opening music for the foreign ministry’s initiative was a purposeful one, Qureshi said, because “the tradition of Sufism was one of tolerance, and that is the tradition of Pakistan.”

As the performance wrapped up, Arab News asked Qureshi to elaborate on the decision to introduce his new cultural initiative with Sufi music.

“When Sufism began spreading in the [Indian] sub-continent they preached tolerance, they cared about humanity and their message was a message of love, unity, interfaith harmony and a better understanding,” the foreign minister said. “And that’s what the tradition of the sub-continent and South Asia has been and that is what we strive to continue.”


Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Updated 8 sec ago

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London
LONDON: A man was remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in a London court charged with the murder and attempted rape of a woman who had been walking home alone in east London.
It was the latest in a string of similar incidents that have heightened concern over the safety of women and girls on the British capital’s streets.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, is charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena, who was attacked after a night out in Ilford in the early hours of Sunday.
McSweeney, who is also charged with attempted rape and robbery, spoke only to confirm his name and details during a brief hearing at the Thames Magistrates’ Court.
In a statement, Aleena’s family mourned her death and called for an end to violence against women. They highlighted the killings of other women who were targeted by strangers in London and elsewhere.
The family expressed sympathy to the families of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and others who were killed in recent months and whose deaths prompted widespread protests calling for more protection for women and girls.
The family said Aleena, a law graduate who was training to become a lawyer, “walked everywhere” and “believed that a woman should be able to walk home.”
“Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home,” their statement said.
Police said Aleena suffered serious head injuries, confirmed in a post-mortem examination.
McSweeney was denied bail and remanded in custody until he is due to appear at London’s Central Criminal Court on Jul. 27.
A march remembering Aleena is planned in Ilford on Saturday.

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
  • Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.

MADRID: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Wednesday expressed support for Sweden’s bid to join NATO in a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, on Wednesday.
“We support (Sweden’s) historic decision. We also express our respect for its efforts,” Kishida told Andersson.
NATO, which opened a two-day summit in Madrid on Wednesday, is expected to grant membership to Sweden and Finland after Turkey switched to support their participation.
Kishida said that Japan and Sweden will hold the presidency of the Group of Seven major powers and the European Union, respectively, next year.
Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.
Andersson expressed gratitude for Japan’s strong action against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.


Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
Updated 29 June 2022

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
  • The decision by the Moscow City Court came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced

MOSCOW: A court in Moscow on Wednesday rejected a prominent Russian opposition figure’s appeal of the 15-day jail sentence he received on charges of failing to obey police.
The decision by the Moscow City Court, the capital’s highest municipal judicial body, came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced.
Yashin, who has publicly criticized Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, was detained late Monday in a Moscow park. Police said he grabbed an officer by his uniform and insulted police, which Yashin denied.
In May, Yashin was ordered to pay 90,000 rubles ($1700) on charges of discrediting the Russian military.
Russia has cracked down on critics of its “special military operation” in Ukraine, A well-known dissident, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was arrested in April and remains jailed while awaiting trial on charges of spreading false information about the military. The offense carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years.


NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
Updated 29 June 2022

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
  • The alliance also agreed on a new strategic concept

MADRID: NATO has invited Sweden and Finland to become members of the military alliance, a commununique published by the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday said.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them (the allies) safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” the communique said, adding that the alliance also agreed a new strategic concept.
The communique described Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security,” a reaction to the massively deteriorated relationship to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
The alliance pledged further help to Kyiv and agreed a package of support aimed at modernizing the country’s defense sector.
At the same time, NATO decided to significantly strengthen its own deterrence and defense.
“Allies have committed to deploy additional robust in-place combat-ready forces on our eastern flank, to be scaled up from the existing battlegroups to brigade-size units, where and when required underpinned by credible available reinforcements, prepositioned equipment, and enhanced command and control,” the communique said.
In the communique, the alliance described China as a challenge to NATO’s interests, security and values, and as a country that is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.


EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
Updated 29 June 2022

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
  • A recent commission study showed a 10% increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations
  • The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products as part of its plan to fight cancer.
The European Commission said its proposal comes in response to a significant increase in the volume of such products sold across the 27-nation bloc.
A recent commission study showed a 10 percent increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations, while heated tobacco products exceeded 2.5 percent of total sales of tobacco products overall across the region.
The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, but not tobacco. With traditional cigarettes, users inhale smoke from burning tobacco.
“With nine out of 10 lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives,” said Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety.
According to EU figures, cancer is the second cause of death in the bloc of 450 million residents. There are about 1.3 million cancer deaths and 3.5 million new cases annually in the EU.
An estimated 40 percent of EU citizens will face cancer at some point in their lives, with the annual economic impact estimated at around 100 billion euros ($120 billion).
The European Commission previously said it wanted to ensure that less than 5 percent of the EU population uses tobacco by 2040.
The proposed ban now goes to member nations and European Parliament lawmakers for review.