Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Colorful Africa day festival provides a real feast to Islamabad people

  • Dean of African Group Ambassador Adel Elarbi thankful to President Aliv for his support

by ANSAR M BHATTI

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 15 (DNA) –Colorful African Day festival organized by the African countries represented in Pakistan, provided a real feast to people of Islamabad.

Visitors enjoyed traditional African delicacies. Cultural performances by African artists added color to African day festivities.

Dean of African Group and Ambassador of Tunisia Adel Elarbi on behalf of all African colleagues expressed heartfelt appreciation and thanks to Dr Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,  for his congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of 56th African Day. This, he said, reflected a special attention given by Pakistan to Africa.

A large number of guests hailing from various walks of life attended the event. Federal Minister for Food Security Sahibzada Mahboob Sultan was the chief guest.

All African countries represented in Pakistan established their stalls. Embassy of Palestine also set up stall where various Palestinian delicacies were displayed.

The Federal Minister went to each and every stall where he was briefed about different items displayed at the respective stall. The Minister took keen interest in the festival and praised efforts of the African countries especially the Dean of the African Group for arranging such a marvelous show.

The Minister on the occasion assured that Pakistan would continue to have cordial relations with the African countries as the African continent offered a lot of opportunities to Pakistani businessmen.

Ambassador Adel said they were celebrating this evening the 56th Anniversary of the Africa day and wanted it as a festival to show the colors and diversity of our dear continent Africa.

“In this occasion I would to express my happiness and pride. As you are aware, Africa Day is annually celebrated every 25th of May across the globe to commemorate the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which is now the African Union (AU). The creation of the organization expressed, then, the awareness of our founding fathers of the strength and the importance of a united Africa after the struggles for freedom and dignity”.

Ambassador Adel said this year they were celebrating Africa day under the theme: “Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. This theme demonstrates the seriousness of the challenges that the continent is facing and the urgent need to work together to ensure to all African citizens the inalienable right to live free, dignified in a prosper and peaceful environment.

The goal our organization is to consolidate the Unity and Solidarity of the African States, Safeguard the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of member States, advance worldwide collaboration within the United Nation (UN) framework and harmonize policies of member states in all areas .

In this context we express our pride and pleasure that two African countries, Niger and Tunisia, were among countries elected as non-permanent members to the Security Council for a period of two years. For sure Niger and Tunisia will be the voice of Africa during their mandate in this prestigious body of the United Nations.

Since the Kigali Extraordinary Summit of 21 March 2018 on the Continental Free Trade Area, African countries are coordinating to come up with prospects that hold for the future. Our expectation is that Africa as a bloc will become a major and an indispensable partner in world trade.

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With regard to African Pakistani relations, I can say that they are rooted in a strong historical bases and long traditions of cooperation. These relations are tied on mutual respect, understanding and good political will. In many areas Pakistan and Africa face the same challenges, which mean that we need more cooperation and interaction.

Therefore, African States have sought for closer economic, social and cultural cooperation with Pakistan for the common good. There is great potential in further promoting Pakistan-Africa ties in all areas and tap into the existing potential to the maximum. Africa is the continent of future and Pakistani businessmen are invited to invest in Africa. The Pakistani government is doing its best through its “Look Africa” policy, but as we know governments are just facilitators and the private sector should take more initiatives to boost trade relations between their country and Africa.

He also thanked Mr. Aziz Boolani, CEO, of Serena Hotel, and through him all the staff, for their support, professionalism and flexibility. Moreover, we express our special thanks to the staff and students of Roots international schools for their artistic contribution.

Ambassador said  there was a Palestinian stand among the African stands; this was our way to express our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers.=DNA

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Fellow Africans,

Dear brothers and sisters of the Continent and the Diaspora,

On this auspicious occasion as we celebrate the 56th anniversary of the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), precursor of the African Union, I am pleased to convey to each and everyone of you this renewed message of faith in the realization of our common vision, namely “The Africa We Want”, as enshrined in Agenda 2063. Indeed, it is here in Addis Ababa, following a protracted and heated debate that the Heads of State and Government of 32 newly independent African States created the OAU. After centuries of domination, oppression, enslavement and slave exploitation, Africa woke up and became aware of its strength and the underlying force behind that strength: its dignity in unity.

It is the solemn affirmation of this imperative that we celebrate today. However, there are still many hurdles to overcome before Africa’s independence and unity fully blossom. This would only come about when every African lives in peace, has free access to quality universal education, to full physical and mental health, to decent and remunerative job, to social and cultural development, to good democratic governance in the strict respect of his fundamental rights.

We celebrate this memorable day under the theme: “Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. This theme in itself sufficiently demonstrates the acuteness of our challenges and the urgent and imperative need to work together to ensure to all African citizens the inalienable right to live free, dignified and be productive.

It is needless to recall on this great day the primary duty of all African States to guarantee these fundamental and inalienable rights. The humanitarian organizations which I commend and thank for the assistance they continue to provide to the African refugees and returnees are called upon to redouble their efforts. In this connection, the States concerned should, in dignity and freedom, create the necessary and appropriate conditions for all their citizens to return home. This occasion is also a timely opportunity to thank host countries for their commendable efforts and sacrifices in favour of refugees. At the same time, I would like to underscore the need for all States to safeguard the principles enshrined in the 1969 Convention on the Specific Aspects of African Refugees, including the principles of non-refoulement and burden sharing, not to mention the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons, known as the Kampala Convention.

Our shared vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens is the irreplaceable tool of our influence on the international scene. This common vision is also the instrument to fast- track our integration through an African space of freedom, opportunities, progress and development. Our duty is to tackle head-on the paradox that makes this potentially rich continent the continent with the largest number of poor countries.

Since the Kigali Extraordinary Summit of 21 March 2018 on the Continental Free Trade Area, we are working hard to come up with prospects that hold for the future. Our hope is that Africa as a bloc will become a major and an indispensable partner in world trade. Parallel to this promising African integration project, more efforts are required regarding the protocol on the free movement of people and the African passport.

I welcome the growing number of states that have implemented relaxation measures of their entry visa policies for African citizens. I urge the Member States that have not yet done so to join without delay the Agreement on the Single African Air Transport Market, another flagship project that is mobilizing us in more ways than one.

Dear Fellow Africans,

Agricultural productivity, local processing of raw materials, product diversification, training, the sustainable enhancement of human resources, the extension of the industrial fabric, a vast network of infrastructure and the exploitation of the energy potential of the continent remain our job creation opportunities for young people, women and general social well-being.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) seeks to provide the most relevant answers possible to all these issues. Its official launch at the Extraordinary Summit scheduled to take place in Niamey on 7 July 2019, will mark an important and decisive step on the road to African integration.

Furthermore, the Institutional Reform which has made giant strides, will also reach its pinnacle at the next Coordination Summit, which I hope will bode well for a harmonious division of labour between the regional and continental levels.

In this collective effort, I would like to place special emphasis on the role of the grassroots actors namely the African civil society organizations, the youth and women who, over and above the activities of the States, are doing a remarkable work of sensitization and mobilization among the various strata of the population.

Their efforts exerted often under difficult conditions cement and strengthen the resilience of African people and their hold on shaping their own destiny.

I wish you all a happy Africa Day celebration in joy, unity and hope.