RIYADH: Pakistan conferred the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) award on Khaled Almaeena, Arab News editor in chief, here on Wednesday night for his outstanding contributions to promoting Saudi-Pakistan relations.
Almaeena, a link between the two nations, has been one of the key figures responsible for the growing Saudi-Pakistan relations in all sectors, including political, economic and cultural.
“The award was conferred upon Almaeena for his contributions to promoting bilateral relations as well as for his advisory roles and the prolific writings that have helped highlight a whole range of bilateral, regional and international issues vital for regional and global peace,” said Pakistani Ambassador Shahid Karimullah, who read out the award citation. The ambassador conferred the award on behalf of the Pakistani government at a special ceremony in the embassy.
Several diplomats and members of the Pakistani community, including Muhammad Sarfaraz A. Khanzada, minister and head of chancery at the Pakistani Embassy, attended the event.
In his citation, Karimullah said that Almaeena has been a visionary journalist.
“Almaeena’s association, deep love and respect for Pakistan are exemplary,” said Karimullah. “I can therefore confess that the award has been conferred on a legend and an institution.”
A versatile writer and an eloquent speaker, he said, Almaeena stands up for issues without mincing words.
“This man could be critical of governments and heads of state in a surgical fashion, epitomizing the deep sense of betrayal prevalent among the masses throughout the Muslim world,” said the envoy.
Moreover, the Pakistani community in the Kingdom looks to him as one of their own, patronizing and guiding the community to well-being and success, he added.
Almaeena, he said, has steered the largest English-language newspaper in the Middle East, the flagship publication of Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), through the changing times in media with panache and vision. Conversant in several languages, Almaeena is especially proficient in English, Arabic and Urdu and has a wealth of knowledge about the Subcontinent.
In his speech, Almaeena thanked the people and the government of Pakistan for the honor. “Arab News has been serving as a bridge between Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations of Europe and Asia, like Pakistan,” he said amid applause. “It is a humbling experience to receive such a prestigious award.”
The Arab News editor in chief added: “Pakistan, which is a success story today, had been striving and struggling to prosperity despite a number of hurdles on the way.”
Referring to the towering personality of Almaeena, Javed Iqbal, a journalist and faculty member of the College of Languages and Translation at King Saudi University, said Arab News has attained greater heights under his stewardship.
Another columnist, Qudsia Qadeer Mirza, also congratulated Almaeena.
“I had the privilege to know him for the last 15 years,” she pointed out.
Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the third highest honor of the Pakistan government, is conferred on foreign nationals in recognition of their service to Pakistan. It is awarded for distinguished merit in the fields of literature, arts, sports, medicine and science. It is also given to very important foreign nationals for their outstanding services.
Every year, the Sitara-e-Imtiaz is announced on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day and conferred by the country’s president.
Written by Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Khaled Almaeena has played a vital role in back door diplomacy for dissolving tensions between India and Pakistan. His services during Earth Quake 2005 are also recognized.