It gives me immense pleasure to state that 2018 will be remembered as a watershed year in Pak-Oman relations witnessing an unprecedented trajectory of exchanges between the Parliamentary, Political, Civil Society and Defense leaderships of our brotherly nations when compared with any such periods in past 65 years.
Bilateral Political Consultations held between Foreign Secretaries in October 2017 and Foreign Ministers meeting on margins of UNGA New York on September 28, 2018 were perfectly timed initiatives that paved a 'full spectrum' program of exchanges.
Thus, between March 2018 - September 2018, Army Chief General Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Abbasi and Air Force Chief Anwar undertook bilateral visits to Sultanate. The year 2019 witnessed added substance and impetus with Foreign Minister H.E. Shah Mahmood Qureshi's visit (January 29-31) dovetailed by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Hayat (Feb 2-6).
The Hon'ble Foreign Minister and HE Yusuf Alawi for the first time Co-Chaired 'Joint Commission', held 'Strategic Consultations' and witnessed ceremony to sign MoUs for Labor and Literature whereas MoU between the Defense Institutions was signed during the visit of Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
'Tamar al Tayyab'a bilateral naval exercise was conducted in Omani waters in December 2018 whereas Royal Oman Navy participated in multinational exercises 'AMAN' hosted by Pakistan Navy. DG Maritime Security Agency visited Muscat during February 24-27, 2019 and a representative of Omani Armed Forces witnessed 'Pakistan Day' Military Parade on March 23rd.
To top it all off, a nine member delegations from Senate of Pakistan led by the Hon'ble Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani paid bilateral visit to Oman and became the first such delegation in Oman to participate in 'National Day' Military Parade reviewed by His Majesty. MoU for Parliamentary Cooperation was also signed on the sidelines of the Chairman Senate's visit.
Foreign Minister's historic 'community interaction' with 1000 Pakistanis held at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex witnessed the impressive ceremony to confer 50 'Certificates of Appreciation' to citizens from Pakistan and Oman in recognition of their services to further bilateral friendship and academic excellence. Posthumously, Mohamed Al Zadjali, Chairman Muscat Media Group received the Certificate from the Foreign Minister on behalf of his late father Essa Zedjali, founder Times of Oman.
I am pleased to announce the coveted appointment of 'Honorary Advisors to Ambassador' on occasion of the Foreign Ministers visit which include Mohammad Ashraf (Community Welfare), Dr. Ikram Burney (Higher Education & Research), Reverend Zeresh Daniel and Dr. Shiyam Kumar (Inter-Faith Harmony & National Integration), Muhammad Shah Sheerani (Pashtun-Baloch Community Buraimi), Naseer Saleh Mohammed Al Balushi (Baloch Community Muscat), Ameer Hamza (Omani Civil Society & Media) and Michael Jansen (Heritage Management),
I wish to add with great joy that Professor Dr. Michael Jansen, a German national resident of Muscat associated with Pakistan's glorious Indus Valley and Gandhara Civilization since 1974 conferred national Award (Star of Distinction 1987), has been decorated with another national medal of 'Crescent of Distinction' by President of Pakistan in Islamabad on March 23, 2019.
I welcome SQU Archeological Department discoveries linking artefacts from Hajar Mountain to Mohen Jo Daro (Sindh-Pakistan), a mesmerizing 3rd Millennium Bronze Age wonder on the banks of the mighty Indus.
I wish to acknowledge the children from Beacon House and PSM for winning over our hearts with their performances of National Anthem and culture of all Provinces. I wish to also thank Omani Citizens for taking over the role of Ambassadors of Pak-Oman Friendship ie., Hiyam Al Jabri, Fahad Al Abri, Marwa Al Wahidi, Anisa Al Raisi, Mazoon Said Al Zadjali and Anas Al Dheeb along with Dhana al Qadhi (Bahrain) and Rosie Gabrielle (Canada) who traveled to Pakistan with Huzaifa under '#Pakistan Awaits' to the magnificent "Roof of the World" where 3 highest mountain ranges and tallest glaciers of the planet converge, and to the 'Spiritual South' of Pakistan.
As Pakistan moves forward with executing announcements made by the Foreign Minister during his public address in Oman i.e, visa free entry to 55 friendly countries including Oman and e-Visa facility for 175 nations, I can foresee a substantial increase in people exchanges between our two brotherly countries which we plan to augment via setting up a direct Ferry Service from Karachi to Muscat and Sohar via Gwadar, a city that has forever bound our two great nations into a blood bond through 175 years of shared heritage. However, until formal announcements, all travelers are required to secure visas before departing for Pakistan.
I express gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos for his gracious love and hospitality for the 270,000 Pakistanis who benefit from the Blessed Renaissance. I thank Government of Oman for its cooperation and all Omanis for their infinite and unconditional love which demonstrates the true measure of our 5000 years old bond.
I end with a note of thanks to our 16 partners in organizing Pakistan Day Reception and sponsors of this Special Edition. Pakistan Zindabad, Pak-Oman dosti paendabad!