ISLAMABAD: The much awaited torch relay of Beijing Olympics 2008 was held in a peaceful-orderly manner in and around Pakistan Sports Complex on Wednesday afternoon. President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani both were present at the start of the torch relay in Islamabad.
The head of the state and head of the government held the torch after it was lighted by Chinese representatives of Beijing Olympics organizing committee. The Executive Vice President (Bocog) Jianj Xiaoyu handed over the Olympics torch to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani who then delivered it to former hockey Star Samiullah.
Samiullah was one of the 66 runners who carried the torch around the sprawling Pak Sports Complex before it entered the Liaquat gymnasium for the final two hours spectacular ceremony. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yau Hui was among the runners of the olympic torch and he carried it for a short while after receiving it from Samiullah.
Former World Champion Jehangir Khan and celebrated hockey Olympian Hassan Sardar were also prominent Pakistani sports persons who carried the torch to Liaquat gymnasium. The sky above the Pakistan Sports Complex was dotted with balloons, released at the start of the ceremony in the open air just in front of Liaquat gymnasium.
The Horse drawn carriage brought the sacred lantern to the stage for lighting the torch. The President of Pak Olympic Association Lt. Gen ® Syed Arif Hassan and Chairman CDA Kamran Lashari in their brief speeches welcomed the Olympic Torch Relay on its first ever journey to Pakistan.
After the ceremony at Liaquat gymnasium the torch will leave for India on Wednesday night. Islamabad is one of the 22 cities of the world where the torch relay to be conducted before it reaches Beijing for the August 8 Opening Ceremony of the Olympic games. The torch relay will cover a total distance of 137000 kilometers on its worldwide tour of 19 countries.
Before coming to Islamabad the Olympic Torch visited Almatay, Istanbul St, Peter Burg, Moscow, London, Paris, Sans Francisco, Daresalam and Muscat. In his brief remark, the Executive Vice President Jing Xiaoyu he was exalted at the grand olympic torch relay in Islamabad. “I was specially thrilled at seeing Horse Carriage bringing the olympic Lantern to the venue.”
This befitting occasion he said was also a testimony to the all weather and everlasting Pak-China friendship. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Ports and Shipping, Privatization and Investment Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sherry Rehman and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik also attended the ceremony.