ISLAMABAD-South Africa is the most diverse economy in Africa. It aims to move towards prosperity through sustainable economic growth and development.

On April 27, people of South Africa gained freedom from a long period of colonialism and apartheid. The first democratic election was held in 1994. The acting high commissioner of the Republic of South Africa Christo Janse Van Noordwyk hosted a very colourful event to mark the 25th freedom celebrations at a local hotel in Islamabad. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan was the chief guest while Naveed Qamar (former finance minister and MNA from PPP), Khurram Dastagir Khan (former defence and commerce minister from PML-N) and Senator Pervaiz Rasheed were among the prominent guests. The event was attended by a large number of people from various walks of life including businessmen, politicians and media persons.

Christo Janse received the guests at the entrance of the hall. All African ambassadors and dean of the diplomatic corps were sitting on the stage. The ceremony started with national anthems of both the countries followed by the cake-cutting ceremony.

The guests engaged in discussion on various national and international issues. One of the participants said that 2019 marked an important moment for South Africa as sixth national and provincial elections are going to be held on 8th May. Other opined that countries have been shaken by corruption within the government setup and it is leading towards poor governess and economic issues. He hoped that the new government in South Africa will focus to root out the menace of corruption from the society to ensure progress and development of the country.

The ambassador of Hungary Istvan Szabo while talking about China’s Belt and Road summit held last week in Beijing elaborated that an agreement had been signed by Chinese government to build railway line from Budapest to Belgrade which is an important connection between south to north of Europe.

Hungary is the first European country which is a part of China’s Road and Belt Initiative. He condemned the terrorist attack on Christians in the churches of Sri Lanka on Easter and viewed that this kind of acts are only for the propagation of hatred among followers of different religion. Sri Lanka is a peace loving country and it’s a high time for all nations to join hand to eliminate terrorism from the globe. Palestinian diplomat said that the new Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan had arrived in Islamabad and soon he will resume his assignment.

While admiring DG ISPR Major Gen Asif Ghafoor press conference last night, one of the participants said that he was one of the best spokespersons and the way he defended Pakistan stance on Indo-Pak crisis was commendable. Ali Muhammad Khan is a dynamic and energetic person. His grandfather, Pir Muhammad Khan, an advocate, worked with Quaid-i-Azam in the Pakistan Movement. He was elected as MNA in 2013, and re-elected in 2018 as a PTI member of the National Assembly. He is a fire speaker with intellectual input and historical background. He in a very humble way interacted with the guests and made a very thought provoking speech on that occasion. He said that South Africa and Pakistan relations were very friendly.

He recalled 1992 world Cup and admired performance of South African cricket team. He said that South African people are professional and dedicated. He further said that we have many things in common as both countries are result of struggle of freedom. We have fought for freedom. Quaid-i-Azam was a lawyer; he was a person of moral and integrity just like Nelson Mandela. He admired the efforts of South Africa to compete in market against recession. He quoted Nelson Mandela saying that journey of thousand miles starts with a first step. He said that we are one and inhibitors of same planet and our creator is one and most importantly we all are Human being. We should not divide ourselves on the bases of race and ethnicity. We should follow nelson Mandela lesson and strive for global peace. He endorsed the message of Quaid-i-Azam and highlighted the issues of Palestine and Kashmir. South Africa and Pakistan have many area of cooperation as both countries are blessed with resources and talent, he said.

The acting high commissioner of South Africa in his speech said that Pakistan is a brotherly country and a key partner for South Africa. We are privileged this year to celebrate our Silver Jubilee in our bilateral relations. We are also grateful for the principled support from Pakistan to the Liberation Struggle against Apartheid. The similar priorities of our two Governments, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Imran Khan and the elevation of the Joint Commission to ministerial level, will provide new impetus to bilateral relations.

Last year in July, he said, we commemorated the centenary of Nelson Mandela who dedicated his life to liberation of our people and our beloved country.

We are continuing the walk to freedom that Nelson Mandela began, to build a society in which all in South Africa might enjoy freedom of speech and of worship, and freedom from want and from fear. In building a better country, and contributing to a better Africa, we truly value our partners in the world he added.

He further said that Ramaphosa and Imran Khan have been included in the 2019 100 most influential people list in the world. As the government and people of South Africa, we are privileged to stand next to Pakistan as it builds peace and prosperity for its people. We respect consistent and comprehensive victories and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war on terror and bringing peace and stability in areas where extremism and violence occurred previously.

He said that we cooperate with Pakistan in key strategic areas including agriculture, education, satellite technology, trans-national crime and defence production and we share love for cricket and look forward to a series of limited over and test matches coming up in May in South Africa between the two National Women cricket teams. The size and growth of Pakistan economy provides real opportunities for expanding trade and investments relations, he said.

We have reached the figure of US$1 billion in total bilateral trade. We admire the industrious approach and capabilities of Pakistani individuals and companies to manufacture world-class products and provide world class services in many sectors. We are delighted that foreign direct investment from Pakistan into South Africa IS growing steadily. We look forward to increase travel between our respective nations. Our two countries share similar challenges and opportunities he added. We are privileged to reconfirm our solidarity with Pakistan, one of the friendliest, most capable hospitable vibrant and resilient countries in the world.

The acting high commissioner said that Pakistan is a key country and we are privileged to have good relation with Pakistan. Imran Khan and Cyril Ramaphosa held joint commission to promote bilateral ties. Pakistan is promoting peace and prosperity for its people and its war against terror is remarkable, he said.