‘Away but not gone’ Pakistanis pay tributes to Dr Song
DR ATIF FARAZ ISLAMABAD—Ambassador Dr. Song of the Republic of Korea is on his way home after completing his term in Islamabad. “I want to see a miracle of the Indus River”, “I’ll come back to Pakistan after 10 years to witness the progress”. These comments are not just promises of the outgoing Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Pakistan, Dr. Song Jong-hwan, they are actually his legacy. Perhaps that most significant outcome of these phrases is the sincerity and genuineness on part of the ambassador.
He drew many comparisons between Pakistan and Korea, starting from independence struggle, bitter experience of war and splitting into two, fight with poverty, empowerment of women in the society, lack of education and opportunities, overhaul of justice system, freedom of press, political rivalry, influence of the outside world and neighbouring countries, internal friction, dealing with menace of corruption and so on.
However, his most staunch comparison is drawn in economy where he mentions that Pakistan had a much better economy and growth rate right from the independence until 1960s. There are well over 100 countries that got independence in the similar period but none has been able to match the progress of Korea. We can define three main factors of the amazing progress of Korea, visionary leadership of late President Park Jung-Hee, extremely high literacy rate and hard work and patriotism of Korean people through the “Saemaul Undong”, also known as “New Town Movement”.
The unbelievable progress made by Korea is commonly known as “Miracle of the Han River”, and this is what His Ex- cellency Dr. Song wants to replicate in Pakistan and he befittingly named it “Miracle of the Indus River”. He has spread this idea of hope during his entire tenure of 3 years in Pakistan. He himself was a practical example of Korean style of working, right from the outset, it was clear that Pak-Korea bilateral relation and cooperation were set to reach new heights. His practical approach and idea of leading from the front landed him in over 30 cities in all four provinces of Pakistan. He managed to visit northern areas. In September 2015, he endorsed his connections by facilitating a summit meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of Korea Ms. Park Geun-Hye on the sidelines of 70th UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) session in New York. Also, back in 2014 he arranged visits of the Prime Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly of Korea to Pakistan. All these efforts strengthened people to people contacts.
His major achievements included signing of 500 million $ EDCF (Economic Development Cooperation Fund) from 2015 to 2017, initiating process of FTA (Free Trade Agreement), joint policy consultation of 2015, arranging a range of language and cultural activities, grant aid projects by KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) worth 10 million $ annually, water supply system of Mandi Bahauddin, water treatment facility in Kasur, ICT center of excellence in Islamabad, management of water resources in Qila Abdullah, a number of projects in a range of universities, projects under KSP (Knowledge Sharing Program), increase in the scholarship quota includ-ing fully funded KGSP (Korean Government Scholarship Program), seminars to education and implement “Saemaul Undong or New Town Movement”, enhancement of employment under HRD (Human Resource Develop-ment) Korea, facilitation in a range of power projects, arranging world famous artists’ performances, contributing a range of articles, delivered lectures on current/political affairs, international relations in leading universities.
The list goes on and it is difficult to comprehend how he achieved all this at the age of 73? He has indeed taught us how to make ourselves useful and pay back to the society. The scribe had the honour of meting him when he at-tended a function at a university, being the first journalist he met in Pakistan. I will always remember him. “Excellency, you will be away but you will never be gone.