Ambassador of Jordan talks to Centreline and DNA
Ansar Mahmood Bahtti
Ambassador of Jordan Nawaf Khalifeh Saraireh gave an exclusive interview to Centreline and Diplomatic News Agency (DNA). Ambassador Saraireh covered various aspects of bilateral relations. He particularly talked about the economic relations between the two countries and suggested ways to further improve these relations. Here are excerpts from his interview.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Islamic Republic of Pakistan, enjoy strong, deep and historic ties, a relationship based on common values and perceptions. Jordan is always emphasizing the need to strengthen relations with Pakistan, because of the common interest of the two brotherly nations. Existing bilateral commercial and economic relations had increased; nevertheless, the present volume of bilateral trade is far below the potential of the two countries. We stress the need for measures to enhance and diversify trade relations.
Since the independence of Pakistan, Jordon is one of the countries that opened its embassy in Karachi and when the Capital was moved from Karachi to Islamabad, we also moved our embassy to Islamabad. We love to improve especially economic relations with Pakistan. Let me tell Pakistani people and Pakistan businessmen through your media house that Jordan can play as a bridge between Pakistan and rest of the Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Last month we had a Jordanian delegation that attended en expo in Karachi that went very well. I would continue to encourage bilateral visits between the two countries. Likewise, as an Ambassador it is my first and foremost priority to encourage Pakistani businessmen to go to Jordan and explore business opportunities. Similarly, we are in touch with various Jordanian companies also to tell them that Pakistan is a good place for investments and business.
We are trying to improve and strengthen cultural relations also. The celebration of Jordanian Independence Day was in fact also part of our cultural activities. Our consulate in Karachi is also contributing greatly to improve cultural relations.
As regards our visa policy you will be glad to know that we grant visas in just one hour provided all documentations are complete. It clearly shows how much importance we give to Pakistan and Pakistani people. Let me assure you that we will continue to extend maximum possible help and support to genuine and serious visitors who intend to go to Jordon for business or tourism purposes.
As you know, Jordanian forces fought shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani forces in 1971 war. Besides there was an extremely close liaison between top Pakistani leadership and Jordanian Royal family, which speaks volumes for the strong bonds of brotherhood that both countries have had in the past.
Jordanians celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Independence Day and the centennial of The Great Arab Revolt; Jordan had its independence from the British mandate and announced the establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on May 25, 1946.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan celebrates national occasions such as the anniversary of the King’s coronation on June 9, the Army Day and the anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt on June 10. While Jordanians celebrate these dear and close national occasions to their hearts, they remind themselves of the struggle of the earlier generations for long years, under their Hashemite leadership, to gain independence, build the state and affirm freedom for the country and the people. Jordan was and will remain, as its wise Hashemite leadership wanted it to be, an Arab and Islamic stronghold and patron of sincere peace efforts. Today, Jordanians perceive their future under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, as prosperous and luminous.
Jordan succeeded through decades of regional political turmoil, in maintaining its stability and builds a solid foundation for economic growth, and has become in recent years a regional hub for investors and business owners. Investors have shown their confidence in Jordan by opening more than 10,000 companies and more than fifty commercial enterprise multinational companies.
GREAT ARAB REVOLT
The Arab Revolt or Great Arab Revolt was declared on 10 June 1916 by The King of Hejaz and prince of Mecca the Sherif Hussein bin Ali , with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Turks and creating a single unified Arab state.
It is to mention that Arabs were united and very loyal to Ottoman Caliphate for about four centuries (1516–1916) sacrificing their lives, lands and money to strengthen and unite Muslims under one Caliphate with Islam as its back bone, but due to policies and actions of the Young Turks in 1908 and Committee of Union and Progress party (CUP), who proceeded to follow Turkification policy, and enforcing Turkish language on Arabs in order to abolition the Arabic language, it was this party believes in the secularism and Turkish nationalism and other reasons which forced the Arabs to seek their freedom and establish a unified Arab state.
JORDNIAN ARMED FORCES
The Jordan’s Armed Forces mission is to defend and maintain the sovereignty, security, and stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan against any external or internal threat. The Jordanian Armed Forces has been a strong supporter and participant of UN peacekeeping missions, the size of the Jordanian participation in various areas of the United Nations peacekeeping troops and staff, hospital and international observers, is estimated to be more than 70,000 officers and men. Internationally, Jordan ranks third in participating in U.N. peacekeeping missions.
Tourism on other side is considered to be a cornerstone of the Jordanian economy. We in Jordan take special pride in the diversity of our tourism product which combines history, archaeology, religion, adventure, incentives, wellness, family, health and nature. It is to mention that Health tourism in Jordan is the region’s top medical tourism destination, as rated by the World Bank, and fifth in the world overall. The Dead Sea is Earth’s lowest elevation on land and the deepest hyper saline lake in the world, it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean; Jordan is home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites. Some very well preserved historical cities include Petra which was named amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007 and was also chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “28 Places to See before You Die.” Jordan is part of the Holy Land and has several biblical attractions that attract pilgrimage activities and it has several Islamic sites.
There are many historical sites of Christians also in Jordan. Christian frequently visit Baptism site of pilgrimage which is located near Palestine border. Two millennia ago, the area oppsotie Jericho has been identified as the place where Jesus Crhist was baptized by John the Baptist, making it one of the focal Christian pilgrimage sites. The area known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan has been discovered between the Jordan River and Tal Al Kharrar. St. Elijah’s Hill another one of the designated pilgrimage sites, is now the focal point of the Baptism Site and is covered with the remains of a Byzantine monastery with churches, large baptism pools and a water storage system.
TRACING ISLAM IN JORDON
The land that is today Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been constantly settled throughout every single period of history since 9500 BC. It has always been a critical bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe and its neighbours, the great civilization of the ancient world, have always sought to control it. The multitudes of nations that have passed through, or settled here, have each left their individual marks on the country –evidence of the rich heritage Jordan enjoy.
The land of Jordan has featured several times in the life of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). First around the time of his birth at Umm Rasas which lies southeast of Madaba, when the Hanif Zeid bin Amr bin Nufayl from Mecca is said to have heard a prediction that a Prophet would arise amongst His people with the religion of Abraham. Later during Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) and his uncle Abu Talib’s caravan journeys between Mecca and Damascus, the famous childhood encounter with the monk Bahira occurred at the caravan stop, Bosra of Al-Sham. It is also here that the Prophet (PBUH) together with his venerable companion Maysarah encountered the monk Nestor. On his journey to Syria the Prophet PBUH is also said to have taken shelter under a tree, which to this day is located near Safwai, in the Mafraq governorate.