Citizen groups step in as the pro-US government fails to properly celebrate the Year of Friendship. Leaders tout China as an economic and political model and say they want younger Pakistanis to know the nation’s real friends. Speakers inclue Hateem Soomro, Akram Zaki, Mian Habibullah among others.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—More than 2,000 young Pakistani boys and girls marched on the streets of Islamabad on Friday to mark China’s National Day and celebrate ties between the peoples of the two countries.
Up to five student bands led the march, joined by several citizens groups focused on improving Sino-Pak ties.
The march was led by former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Akram Zaki Mr. Akram Zaki and Mian Habibullah. Both are members of All Pakistan China Friendship Association, or APCFA.
The march, held under the banner, ‘Friends of China Peace and Harmony Walk’ was intended as a salute from the people of Pakistan to the people of China on their National Day. Beijing and Islamabad are marking 2011 as a Friendship Year.
Citizen groups joining the march included the Islamabad Crescent Lions Club (ICLC), DEVCOM-Pakistan, All Pakistan China Friendship Association (APCFA), Sir Syed Memorial Society (SSMS), Saba Trust, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).
The participants of the walk gathered at the Parade Ground in front of the Presidency and Parliament waving Pakistani and Chinese flags. They were holding placards with slogans stating “Long live Pakistan China Friendship”, “Hamara Yaqeen – Piyara Cheen” (our faith, the loving China), “We are proud of Pak-China Friendship”, “Pak Cheen Dosti Zindabad” (Long live Pak-China Friendship).
Two Dynamic Foreign Ministers: Pakistan’s Hina Rabbani Khar and China’s Yang Jiechi meeting in August 2011.
Mr. Zaki called on Pakistani nation to adopt the Chinese model of political, social and economic development. “We can trust China like always in the changing geo-political situation in the region and world. China has emerged as a strong nation since its independence in 1951, and can be a role model for us to excel in all socio-economic development.”
Zaki said it was time Pakistan reduced reliance on countries that have exploited Pakistan for their own vested interests. “We have been deceived for long, and now we need to stand on our feet. The youth is our hope, and they should be told about the long journey of [Pak-China] spanning decades,” Zaki added.
Mian Habibullah said Pakistan and China had declared 2011 as Pakistan-China Friendship Year to mark 60 years of great friendly diplomatic relations.
“Unfortunately, our government could not manage the celebrations. Now, the civil society organizations have developed a platform, Friends of China, to initiate the celebrations. This walk is the first tribute to a great friend and nation on their national day,” Habibullah said.
Friends of China Coordinator Munir Ahmed said: “We have been pushed to misery during the last three decades especially since Pakistan joined hands on the so-called war against terrorism. This has led us to severe socio-economic instability. Despite our sacrifices, our so-called friends are pushing us to the wall. This is the time to say goodbye to “do more” policy, and look forward to our genuine and sincere friend China that never betrayed or embarrassed Pakistani nation. Rather China has always been a great help in all challenging times including the recent one.”
ICLC Vice President Sibtain Raza Lodhi said the peace walk showed the feelings of Pakistanis’ toward China.
He said Pakistanis believed in the cultural exchange between the two countries and it could bring peace and harmony among different nations.
ICLC President Nasira Jamil thanked all the partners and the participants and the media for their support for the event. Hateem Soomro, Yasir Tahir, Asma Yasir and Asim Altaf also spoke on the occasion.
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