At the Islamabad International Airport, Mr. Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI), had been waiting for the delegation. For the visit, he and other friends of PCI had done various preparations. And among the delegation members, there were his old friends and new friends as well whom he had not met before. But as soon as the members got off the airplane, everyone was immediately immersed in the warm welcome of Mr. Mushahid Hussain and other friends of PCI.
At the gate of the Airport, when interviewed by the local journalists, Mr. Mushahid Hussain emphasized the importance of the delegation’s visit in promoting and enhancing the all-weather friendship between Pakistan and China and conveyed the expectations of the Pakistan government and Pakistan-China Institute for the visit; his warm welcome and friendly brief moved the delegation members.
Feeling the pulse of Islamabad as we traveled in the car, we were impressed by the beauty of the garden city. In fact, flowers can be seen everywhere in all the important cities of Pakistan, together with the gorgeous trucks which are an emblem of the country. To the east of Islamabad there sits the fabulous Rawal Lake, with the magnificent Mount Himalayas in view. Islamabad has a population of nearly a million. It is an impressive city with wide streets and pleasant sights.
On the day of our arrival, after a delicious welcoming lunch on the beautiful Margalla Hills hosted by Mr. Zubair Khan, Vice President of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), we attended the first important activity on our schedule: the launching of the Chinese book section at Saeed Book Bank, the largest bookstore in Islamabad. Saeed Book Bank is the most influential and popular book store in the city. It is well lit, full of the scent of new books. Tall book shelves are laid out by the wall and a variety of delicate texts are placed on shelves in the middle of the store. Although the book store was crowded, it was very quiet. Upon the demand of the Pakistani readers, we had brought nearly 3,000 books with us to Pakistan, of over 150 different kinds, in English or in both Chinese and English, covering various topics such as the Chinese intangible cultural heritages, Chinese medicine, the social and economic development of Xinjiang, Xinjiang’s folk customs, tourist resources, children’s books, and classics, provided by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, China International Publishing Group, and the publishing houses of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Mr. Qiaojifu, head of the Xinjiang Delegation, gave a speech at the launching ceremony. He said that the Chinese book section was intended to function as a window for the people of Pakistan to help them learn more about China, and about Xinjiang in particular. He said it was expected that there would be greater bilateral cooperation in fields such as culture, media and publishing, in addition to the present cooperation in politics and economy.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, presented his understanding of the great significance of launching the Chinese book section. He said these books would enable the Pakistani people to learn more about Chinese culture as well as about the real and developing China.
On the evening of Feb.15, Senator Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, also a former Prime Minister, entertained the delegates at his home. We were delighted to find other guests present, including important government officials, and the elite of the academic and cultural circles of Pakistan. All of them expressed their sincere blessings for the friendship of the two countries.
Meeting Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani
Feb. 16 was a busy and memorable day for the delegation. In the morning we were interviewed by the Director General of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Asia-Pacific Division. Both parties shared their views on the Asia-Pacific issues and stressed the role played by both countries on peace in this region.
In the afternoon, the delegation was met by former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for cultural exchanges. Grand and solemn, the Parliament House is a building representative of the traditional architectural features of Pakistan.
Yousaf Raza Gilani listened carefully to the introduction by Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who briefed him on the exchanges between China and Pakistan in recent years. Gilani warmly welcomed the delegation, and expressed his belief that the visit would boost the development of both parties in media, publishing and cultural exchanges. He said that the friendship between China and Pakistan is a long standing and well established one, and that in Pakistan, people are friendly to China, regardless of which party they belong to, or what tribe they are from. He reiterated the familiar simile describing relations between the two countries, that is, the friendship between China and Pakistan is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than iron, and sweeter than honey. Xinjiang and Pakistan, he stated, are good neighbors and have conducted effective cooperation in trade, finance and culture. As one of the tasks of the visit had been to sign cooperative agreements in media and publishing, he hoped that the scope of cooperation would be widened in the future.
Mr. Qiaojifu introduced the social and economic developments in Xinjiang and told Gilani about the major cooperative tasks of the delegation. He expressed the hope that Gilani would visit Xinjiang someday. Gilani shook hands with all the members of the delegation and also answered questions of a reporter from Tianshan Net concerning Sino-Pak relations, and the economic and cultural exchanges between Xinjiang and Pakistan. Government officials in Pakistan were also present at the interview.
Afterwards, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, the Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting, had a friendly exchange with the delegation. Mr. Qiaojifu relayed to Minister Awan what objectives the delegation wished to achieve with their visit. He expressed the hope of contributing to the development of the Sino-Pak friendship, towards promoting bilateral cooperation and stated that the visit marked the beginning of such efforts.
Minister Awan spoke highly of Sino-Pak relations and the contribution of the Xinjiang Delegation to its cause. She said that the Chinese and Pakistan people are brothers and that Pakistan is home to the delegates. She felt that China’s rapid social and economic developments served as beneficial examples to Pakistan, and also expressed her belief that in the areas of publishing and media, both parties faced promising prospects of cooperation.
After the interview, the delegation visited the headquarters of the Pakistan Television Corporation Ltd.
In the evening the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Liu Jian, met the delegation. Mr. Qiaojifu informed Ambassador Liu of the major tasks of the delegation and had an in-depth discussion on how to work towards joint publishing and media sharing.
Ambassador Liu said, “We should promote the Sino-Pak friendship in an all-round manner instead of being confined to cooperation in areas of politics and economy. The shared similarities in the geography and folk customs of Xinjiang and Pakistan serve as good bases and provide broad prospects for further cultural exchanges. The visit of the Xinjiang Delegation to initiate cooperation in areas of publishing and media is a good beginning. From now on, Xinjiang is expected to strengthen the promotion of its profile. Fruitful achievements are to be expected with our conscientious effort.”
Ambassador Liu expressed strong support to Xinjiang on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan by saying that the embassy would make every effort to contribute to the two strategic tasks of Xinjiang: development in leaps and bounds, and longtime security.
Feb.17 was marked by more frequent and broader contact with people of different fields in Pakistan. Launching the English version of Youlin (Good Neighbors) was the climax of the visit.
In the morning, the delegation visited the famous Faisal Mosque located in the north of Islamabad. They then went to a nearby campus of the International Islamic University, where the launching ceremony was to take place. Youlin is the first jointly published magazine of the two countries. The magazine and its E-version, in collaboration with Tianshan Net (http://yl.xjts.cn), were also to be put online that day. In addition, the occasion also marked the launch of Youlin Publishing House, the first joint publishing project between the two countries as well as the first publishing corporation.
The International Islamic University was founded in 1976. Students on campus follow a unified dress code. The layout of the buildings on campus shows a merging of the traditional and the modern architectural elements. Xinjiang delegates were much impressed by the excellent green grass.
The launching ceremony was held at the auditorium of the University. The ceremony was attended by Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the staff of the Pakistan-China Institute, over 20 state officials (including ministers and senators), well-known scholars and more than 300 staff and students of the university.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has high expectations of the English version of Youlin and hopes it becomes the best magazine in Pakistan. Ch. Shujaat Hussain, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) said that the unique magazine would strengthen trust and friendship so as to promote the mutual understanding and heart felt exchanges between the two nations.
The ceremony drew wide attention from the Islamabad media, with the state TV and radio stations, Dawn, and National News in attendance. These were accompanied by Chinese media including Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, and Chinese News Service, to name a few. Nihao-Salam, a website of the Pakistan-China Institute, also followed up the event.
On Feb.18, the delegation visited the Lok Virsa Museum and the Pakistan National Monument. The former showcases the abundant folk heritage of Pakistan and awed us with the rich and long history of the Pakistani culture. The latter, however, was even more impressive.
The Pakistan National Monument is located in the Shakar Parian Hills, a famous tourist area in Islamabad, and overlooks the city. The total cost of the monument lay at more than Rs.580 million. The architecture was different from what we Chinese are used to. The four large petals and three small petals make it look like a blossoming lotus. The murals on the inside of the large petals are images of famous figures and historical locations in Pakistan, including the images of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “Father of the Nation”, and Fatima Jinnah, his sister. The circular terrace has been constructed in the shape of a five-pointed star. From the air the monument looks like a star encased in a crescent moon, identical to what is seen on Pakistan’s national flag.
At the warm invitation of Senator Talha, the delegation had lunch at his farmhouse, where they met with more Pakistan friends, and everyone enjoyed the delicious food as well as the friendly atmosphere there.
In the afternoon, the delegation attended the Pakistan-China Friendship Conference organized by the Pakistan-China Institute and the Root School System. At the conference, Mr. Mushahid Hussain, Mr. Faisal Mushtaq, Executive Director of the Roots School System, Mr. Hameed Haroon, Chief Executive Officer of the Dawn Media Group, and Mr. Qiaojifu made ebullient speeches. The delegation then presented books as gifts to the Roots Chinese Language School. Everyone enjoyed wonderful music and the dances performed by the students of the school. A group photo with the teachers and students marked the unforgettable moment of the friendship between Pakistan and China.
That evening, the delegation attended a banquet hosted by Mr. Mian Habib Ullah, Chairman of the Pak-China Friendship Association.
The launch of the English version of Youlin and the overall visit of the Xinjiang Delegation marks a new page in the cultural exchanges and cooperation between the people of two countries. The sunlight of the early spring in Islamabad shines in the minds of the delegates. From now on, with each issue of the magazine, we add more charm to the long-lasting friendship of the people of both countries by keeping a historical record of the past, and portraying our hopes to the future.
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