JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s extensive Pakistani community celebrated their country’s independence day on Tuesday with special flag-raising ceremonies in Riyadh and Jeddah.
At the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh hundreds of Pakistani expatriates watched as Pakistan’s Ambassador, Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, hoisted the national flag. Messages from the country’s President, Mamnoon Hussain, and Imran Khan, the incoming prime minister, were read out.
As Pakistan commemorated its 72nd independence day, Khan earlier said he was “optimistic” about the country’s future despite the economic crises it faced. A united resolve would pave the way for Pakistan to become a “great nation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani ambassador paid homage to the sacrifices of “freedom fighters and leaders of the independence struggle,” and highlighted the crucial role played by Pakistani expatriates in the country’s successes in the past seven decades.
Saddique expressed his gratitude to the Kingdom for supporting Pakistan and its people, saying: “Saudi Arabia has a special place in the heart of every Pakistani.”
At the Pakistan Consulate in Jeddah, a Pakistan Army and Navy contingent looked on as Shehryar Akbar Khan, the consul general, raised the national flag.
Speaking to a gathering of expatriates, Khan said that the day was a reminder of the struggle by the Muslims of the subcontinent for a separate homeland “where they could live their lives with freedom and dignity.”
“It is my belief that with honesty of purpose and devotion to the national cause we will succeed in our mission of elevating Pakistan to its rightful place in the comity of nations,” he said.
The consul general said that the Pakistani community had a role to play in developing Saudi Arabia as well as their homeland.
Saudi Arabia’s 2.6 million Pakistanis “are a source of strength between the two countries and act as a bridge between the two brotherly countries,” Khan said.
The recent election had strengthened the democratic norms in Pakistan with the third successive peaceful transfer of power, he said.
Khan also urged the expatriate community to “remember their Kashmiri brethren on this auspicious day who are facing human rights violation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.”
He thanked King Salman and the Saudi government for hosting the large Pakistani community, providing them with an opportunity to play a constructive role in development of both the countries.
Earlier, Shaiq Bhutto, deputy consul general, Najeeb Ahmad, welfare consul read out messages from Pakistan’s president and prime minister.
The consul general, surrounded by children wearing Pakistani dresses and holding Pakistani flags, cut a cake to commemorate independence day. Pakistani children also sang national songs to the audience.