ISLAMABAD  -  Maldives gained independence from British rule on 26 July 1965. After independence, Maldives built its own economy. To celebrate the 53rd Independence Day, the ambassador of Maldives and Ayesha Saleem hosted a grand reception at a local hotel in Islamabad. The event was well-attended by people from various walks of life including politicians, business community representatives, diplomats and media fraternity. Federal Minister for Interior, Muhammad Azam Khan was the chief guest on the occasion.  National anthems of both countries were played and a cake cutting ceremony was also held.

SAARC ambassadors, Director General foreign office Dr Muhammad Faisal and the newly-appointed Greek ambassador Dimitris Hatzotoulos were also present at the ceremony.

The recent elections and the formation of a new cabinet of PTI government was a hot topic among the participants. Most of the ambassadors welcomed the victory of Imran Khan and expressed their desire to meet him. Asad Umer is the only one in Imran Khan’s Cabinet who was declared the Finance Minister long before elections which shows Imran Khan and his party’s confidence in the PTI stalwart.

Umer, as a finance minister will play a vital role in reviving the confidence of investors as well as the flourishing of businesses. He is a competent and visionary leader who has capacity to fix Pakistan’s crippled economy.

Asad is also hopeful to make an economist forum which will be a platform for technocrats of Pakistan to discuss economic issues with Prime Minister. The revenue improvement strategy which professionalizes the FBR and improving the tax collection effort without creating harassment to the tax payer is also included in his agenda. The expected finance minister is taking keen interest in improvement in the rupee value, and its stability against the dollar.

 Federal Minister for Interior Muhammad Azam khan made a speech in which he congratulated the ambassador and the people of Maldives on their 53rd Independence Day.  He said Maldives is undoubtedly an important country of South Asia. Its resilience and leadership role in spearheading the movement for protecting the rights of small island countries and its commitment towards economic prosperity is highly commendable. 

On bilateral relations between Pakistan and Maldives he said that our historical, religious and cultural links date back centuries but diplomatic relations were established in July 1966. Our ties are characterized by cordiality, mutual respect and commonality of Interests regarding various international issues He said that Pakistan wishes to see SAARC as a vibrant regional organization that can build economic synergies and help to better the lives of the peoples of South Asia.

Pakistan and Maldives are firmly committed to the SAARC process.  He further said that it is Pakistan’s ardent desire to promote peace and stability in South Asia, which are the prerequisites for fighting poverty and promoting economic growth and development. We consider Maldives to be a key partner In this regard, he added.

The ambassador Ahmed Saleem, who is a kind and humble man, also made a speech in which he welcomed the guests and said that Pakistan is one of the first countries to recognize Maldives as an independent country in 1965.

The extraordinary relationship that has since existed between the Maldives and Pakistan is much more than one just between two governments it is a relationship based on mutual respect and common faith. Maldives is proud to call Pakistan a true and sincere friend.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.