‘Nehru was the architect of India-Arab friendship’

India Arab Friendship Foundation launched, former Prime Minister, Dr. Singh joins in at the dinner.

By Manzar Imam, TwoCircles.net,

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New Delhi: The ties between India and the Arab world are centuries old. Any effort to forge new friendships between India and the Arab world therefore would amount to a further attempt towards rebuilding and renewing the existing ties. Most speakers reiterated the above view at the launching ceremony of India Arab Friendship Foundation (IAFF) on Tuesday 25 November, 2014 at a Five Star Hotel here.

The man behind this initiative to revamp and reinvigorate the India Arab ties to bring forth the talents of the South Asian and West Asian nations for development of the world was Mohd. Shabbir Hussain, popularly known as Jabir Patel.

Governor Dr. Aziz Qureshi lighting the candle
Governor Dr. Aziz Qureshi lighting the candle

K. Rahman Khan, former Union Minster and one of the chief patrons of IAFF, remarked that the establishment of the IAFF is “another milestone in the relations between Arab countries and India” which is “pivotal for our development.” While mentioning about the high percentage of imports from the Arab world, he said, “People to people relation is needed for real bonding”. Delivering the keynote address, Rahman said that despite existing ties, finding new areas of cooperation is needed and “the Foundation, will strengthen those ties”.

Chief Guest and Governor of Uttarakhand, Dr. Aziz Qureshi while appealing to the Arab guests to come forward to help the victims of natural calamities in Uttarakhand said, “I take it as a tribute to the great Nehru, whose birth falls in the month of November, who advocated the India-Arab friendship”. While remembering Gandhi’s and Nehru’s desire for freedom and dignity of the people of Palestine, he hoped and appealed to the Arab world to continue their “fight to see a free Palestine”.

P. J. Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha extended his wishes and support for further promotion, development and growth of India’s relations with the Arab countries saying that any contribution from the newly launched Foundation to this end would be great. He also said that India has always taken the Palestinian cause and it will always take the Palestinian cause which needs to be strengthened further in view of the fact that India’s relations with the Arab world are further converging.

A view of the stage with dignitaries sitting on chairs
A view of the stage with dignitaries sitting on chairs

Remembering his own days as Minister of External Affairs in the UPA government, Member of Parliament, E. Ahamed said that with the emergence of ISIS, the West Asian region is witnessing new geopolitical challenges which are “impacting the region as a whole”.

Ahamed also expressed his solidarity with Palestine stating that “India’s long association with Palestine goes back to our days for freedom struggle” which will continue. India is standing in support to the people of Palestine in the field of information technology and vocational training. India’s strong commitment to the Arab countries will continue, added the former minister.

Minister of Finance, Commerce and Economic Planning of the Republic of South Sudan, Aggrey Tisa Sabuni said that the Foundation’s initiative would be a step forward towards making cultural, political and economic ties between India and Arab world. The minister said that Sudan wishes to increase its cultural and trade relations with India for a fruitful cooperation between the two countries.

Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Dr. Mukul M Sangma found huge applauses from the audience for his remark that large number of Indians did not know even their own country as much as they knew the Arab world. This shows the diversity of ties between India and the Arab world. I do not need to revisit the past but, taking advantage of our relationships we need to see “how we mutually benefit by strengthening” the existing ties. While terming the Foundation’s renewed effort as great, the CM invited the organizers to hold their next meeting in the beautiful state of Meghalaya.

CPIM leader and MP Mohammed Salim wished that the existing ties between India and Arab counties should further strengthen.

Former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh receiving memento from E. Ahamed before the dinner, while Governor Aziz Qureshi looks on
Former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh receiving memento from E. Ahamed before the dinner, while Governor Aziz Qureshi looks on

Mementoes in appreciation of journalism services were given to Engineer Wassfi Hassan El Sreihin, Secretary General of African-Asian Rural Development Organization, Urdu daily Siasat and journalist Qaiyoom Anwar for his excellent work in Kashmir.

Adding silent grace and meaning to the Foundation was the joining in of former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the high dinner at the end of launching formalities.

H. E. Ebyan Mahamed Salah, Dean, League of Arab States Mission, also spoke on this occasion. Member of Parliament from Kishanganj, Bihar, Maulana Asrarul Haque Qasmi, also the Chairman of Reception Committee; Abdus Salam Asim, Urdu Editorial Chief of UNI; Haji Mohd. Imran Ansari, Vice President, All India Momin Conference; public representatives, academicians, intellectuals, heads of different government and non-government bodies, activists and media persons were present. Jabir Patel welcomed the participants where Ateeq Siddiqui offered vote of thanks.

(Manzar Imam is a freelance journalist based in Delhi.)