Feb 09 - 15, 2009

Najmul Saqib Khan, former Ambassador of Pakistan was honoured with "The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star" the second highest Award by the government of Japan in December last. Actually, recognition of his outstanding services by conferring the prestigious award by the Japanese government was an honour for the people of Pakistan as well.

Najmul Saqib carries various distinctions to this distinguished diplomatic career spanning over 36 years. Having served in key diplomatic positions around the world, he was Consul General in New York and Ambassador to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Japan. He was also the Director General of the Foreign Service Training Institute in Islamabad. His professional career has spanned over 11 yeas in the United States and over 11 yeas in the Middle East in addition to his assignment as Ambassador to Japan in the 1980's.

PAGE had an opportunity of interviewing him with a focus on conferment of the prestigious award he earned for the nation. His affection with the people of Pakistan and his in-depth views on economic woes of the masses were impressive as he spoke on economic and financial issues faced by the country with all depth and on the back of international exposure he spoke more like international economist than a diplomat.

While narrating the historic achievement of receiving the rare award, Najmul Saqib dilated upon the Japanese efforts to rise and become as one of the strongest economies in the world. He said that on the occasion of conferment of the award Akinori Wada, Consul General of Japan, Karachi paid glowing tributes to the outstanding services of Najmul Saqib Khan.

He said that the government of Japan has conferred the prestigious "Order of the rising Sun Gold and Silver Star" in recognition of his services and efforts in bringing the two countries close together.

Speaking on the occasion of the conferment ceremony the Consul General said this order is the second highest order of the government of Japan. The first order normally decorates the present or former head of the state or government.

Najmul Saqib Khan was appointed Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Japan in 1985. During his mission until 1988, he took keen interest in the modern Japanese nation building and started researching the modern experiences of development, in addition to his efforts of strengthening the relationship between Japan and Pakistan.

After retiring from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Khan published his book entitled 'Japanese Experience and National Building in South West Asia' which covers the history of Japanese nation building from the 1960's to the present and the way to apply Japanese experience to Southwest Asian countries.

Moreover, Mr. Khan has continued to enlighten people in Pakistan as well as all over the world with his in depth analysis and reports on Japan and International Affairs by delivering lectures at various International seminars and symposiums. The World Bank seminars of 1995 and 1996, the lectures at the Amman University in 2003 and at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, USA are few examples of the many forums where he rendered his expert knowledge.

Mr. Khan also supports a lot of our Consulate-General's activities including seminars, exhibitions and meetings, Akinori Wada acknowledged. Mr. Khan delivered lectures on his insight at an annual 'Teachers Workshop for Secondary Schools'. "Am very grateful to Mr. Khan for his cooperation as without his participation our activities would have surely suffered," the Japanese diplomat observed.

Congratulating the retired Pakistan Ambassador on receiving the award of the 'Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Star' Akinori Wada lauded the valuable services of Najmul Saqib with impressive remarks 'we consider Mr. Khan an asset for us and express the hope that both our countries continue to benefit from Mr. Khan's expertise and knowledge.

Speaking on the occasion of conferment of the prestigious award the former Ambassador Najmul Saqib said that the conferment by the Government of Japan of the 'Order of the rising Sun and Silver Star' deems a high honour and is gratefully accepted. It has been an agreeable surprise as it occurred after interval of twenty years reckoned from the relinquishment of ambassadorship in Tokyo in 1988. It is a manifestation of the long and enduring memories cherished by Japanese of relationships forged with individuals engaged in a deep and sensitive understanding of their culture as well as society and of the happy outcome that their recognition may get delayed but is seldom denied.


Recalling his glorious experiences in Japan, the Pakistan Ambassador said that he had taken his assignment in Tokyo with some misgivings. He said "I had spent more than 25 yeas of my career in successive assignments in the United States, the Middle East, Western Europe and the Gulf Region with Saudi Arabia in the vanguard. As a complete stranger to the Asia Pacific, I was burdened by the feeling that it will take a long time for a take off into a fulfilling assignment. The fears however turned out to be unfounded and I got going in my new assignment at a brisk pace. The ceremony of presenting my letters of credence to Emperor Hirohito had a distinctive stamp engraved on it and it lifted my spirits. I was taken in a horse driven carriage from a high street in Tokyo to the Imperial Palace with the traffic coming to a standstill and was ushered in the benign presence of the Emperor surrounded by an impressive array of eminent citizens. My brief address on that occasion highlighted my arrival in a pre-eminent Asian country that surpassed the West in industrialized economic advancement. The Emperor was graciously welcomed by remarks and beamed an enigmatic smile at me.


"The professional success of an ambassador invariably rests on his reception and the treatment meted out to him in the host country. The diversity and depth of my relationships with the opinion moulders and decision makers were instrumental in acquiring an insightful understanding of a distinctive country that is hard to penetrate. My wife and adolescent son carry happy memories of their stay in Tokyo and reminisce about their experiences in a country rich with surprises. What is noteworthy is that the passage of time had not dimmed the recollections of an educative and elevating encounter with a unique culture."


On this historic occasion of conferment of the prestigious award, Najmul Saqib presented his book on 'Japanese Experience and Nation Building' to the Consul General of Japan.

Sharing his experiences with the audience in his presentation, the Ambassador selected what he described as three key elements that contributed to the rapid progress of Japan: the dissemination of education, capacity for learning manifested in imitation as well innovation and the synthesis of modernity and tradition.


"Japan created a profound impact on my thinking by according the highest priority to the development of the human capital through the dissemination of education in a resource poor country. Each new emerging country must ask itself the fundamental question: what effect will education have on our economy, society and on grassroots nation building? As Mori Arinori, the Minister of Education in Meiji Japan (1870's) put it: "Our country must move from its third class position to second class and from second class to first; and ultimately to the leading position among all countries of the world. The best way to do this is by laying the foundations of elementary education". The Fundamental Code of Education promulgated in 1872 stipulated: "There shall, in the future, be no community with an illiterate family or a family with an illiterate person" and established a universal system of education for all. By the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), the entire population in the country had achieved functional literacy and compulsory attendance at schools was close to 100 percent. With the high speed spread of mass education for boys and girls, societies witness the never failing enhancement of skills with its vital linkages to the diffusion of technology and of rising standards of living."


The question to be asked is why Japan has succeeded in catching up rapidly with the advanced industrial nations of the West. The incontestable truth in this regard is the remarkable capacity for learning in Japan rooted in the realization the acceptance of the necessity for change is an ineradicable element in the development of nations. The process of learning entails adaptation through borrowing from abroad linked to imitation and innovation, Najmul Saqib elaborated.

A learning society mobilizes human resources and knowledge to climb the ladder of progress change. For Japan, onward movement meant borrowing from advanced nations, which in turn necessitated imitation. Borrowing was built on a careful scanning of the external horizons and the patient gathering of available information from all sources to remedy Japanese weaknesses with special emphasis on the transfer of Western organizational patterns to Japan. We have to be reminded time and again "a properly intense and disciplined period of imitation is essential to establish a base of experience and knowledge upon which creative achievements become possible". Imitation is to be viewed as the first link in a chain that should culminate in creativity.

Japan was selective in its borrowing and earned the reputation of a rational shopper. Having carefully examined foreign models in the light of their goals and priorities, Japanese decision makers picked the winners in specific domains with discernment. For a late developer, Japan has mobilized a national effort through the process of borrowing and adaptation to achieve its national goals and in some fields to surpass them.


With modernization, Japan faced the challenge of preserving those elements that attuned to Japan irreducible uniqueness. As the Meiji slogan of Japanese Spirit and Western Science suggests, the elite felt that the challenge to their hallowed culture from foreign ideas and practices were to be taken as seriously as the military threat hovering over the horizon. The leaders practiced creative or innovative conservatism: Japanese traditions were to be retained by reinterpreting and re-moulding them to the accompaniment of modernity, indiscriminate westernization; it does not require wholesale abandonment of traditions but their reinterpretation and filling them with new meaning lest they become irrelevant and meaningless and have merely an ornamental or sentimental relationship in our lives. In the twenty-first century, the blend of tradition and modernity is to be viewed as a creative challenge facing the emerging countries engaged in nation building.

Concluding his speech, the Ambassador said that bilateral relationship between Japan and Pakistan is not burdened with a historical baggage of unequal relationship in the past and is carried forward by the shared goals of a world community built around diversity and pluralism. The two countries are united in their endeavors to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in promoting international peace and co-operation.

People in Pakistan are mindful of Japan's weighty financial contribution-the second largest to the UN budget. Japan has been in the top bracket of participants in Pakistan's economic development as an aid giver. "We continue to look upon Japan as a promising source of foreign investment and technology transfer. The long term interest of the two countries converges in a functioning globalized economy with reduction in poverty, access to opportunities for all and in a well government international community."

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Hirofumi Nakasone especially wrote to the Ambassador to congratulate him on the conferment of the "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star".


The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 10,163.1 million on 31st January, 2009. The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under: -

i) Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan:

$ 6,792.8 million.

ii) Net foreign reserves held by banks (other than SBP):

$ 3,370.3 million

iii) Total liquid foreign reserves:

$ 10,163.1 million