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Nelson Mandela: When the great leader who defeated racism in South Africa

Nelson Mandela: When the great leader who defeated racism in South Africa
Nelson Mandela: When the great leader who defeated racism in South Africa

Nelson Mandela: When the great leader who defeated racism in South Africa

(This article was first published in October 2020. It is being republished today on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.)

Liberal leader Nelson Mandela, who spent a quarter of a century in prison for speaking out against a government steeped in racism, was released prematurely due to global pressure in 1990, the year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Happened

This year, when he was released from Victoria Prison on February 11 without compromising his principles, the scene was shown on Western television channels around the world. It was not only the release of a great leader but also a recognition of the defeat of racism.

At that time, everyone around the world wanted to see Nelson Mandela succeed. Every country, especially the people of the Third World and the governments of the Third World, wanted to make him their guest. India awarded Mandela its highest award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1990.

But it took another two years for Pakistan to honor Mandela.
Nelson Mandela arrived in Karachi on October 2, 1992, where he was received by Sindh Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Shah. Nelson Mandela visited the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in Karachi.

Until then, Pakistan had not recognized South Africa’s racist government, so Islamabad did not have diplomatic relations with Pretoria. Pakistan has boycotted the racist government since 1949.

Pakistan had banned contacts with any government in Africa that pursued racist policies. In 1990, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Rifat Mehdi, met with Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his visit to Zimbabwe.

This was Pakistan’s first regular contact with Nelson Mandela. In his memoirs, Rifat Mehdi said that Mandela’s dream was to give his country’s black population the right to vote in local and national elections.

During his post-release struggle, Mandela had more meetings with Pakistani Ambassador Rifat Mehdi. “My hero is Jinnah,” Mandela said in another personal meeting. I was inspired by them in my struggle for freedom.
When Rifat Mehdi was arranging Nelson Mandela’s visit to Pakistan in October 1992 and when Mandela saw the details of his trip, he said, “How can I enter Pakistan without paying tribute to my hero?” ۔ ‘

His words were not devoid of emotion. Mandela wrote his remarks in a guest book at Jinnah’s mausoleum: “Jinnah is a source of encouragement to all who are fighting against racial and sectarian discrimination.”

So their travel plans were changed and a new ticket was issued.

Mandela’s visit to Pakistan became possible in October when he was on his way to Beijing at the invitation of China. Pakistan’s High Commissioner Rifat Mehdi was in constant touch with him. The then Foreign Minister of Pakistan was Sartaj Aziz.

Sartaj Aziz says that Nelson Mandela was invited by China in March 1992. The visit was scheduled to China and Pakistan tried to stop Pakistan on its way to China so that Pakistan could also have the honor of hosting this great leader.

Mandela was the leader of South Africa’s opposition at the time. There was a racist government in South Africa. However, Pakistan, like other African and Third World countries, decided to welcome him as an official guest.

The 1980s and 1990s were much better in the changing times of the twentieth century in the sense that in the West there was no problem in speaking out for the freedoms of Third World countries. Sartaj Aziz says the 1960s and 1970s were a period of ‘de-colonization’ when more than 60 countries gained independence.

In the Third World, the independence of these countries was celebrated while in the Western media they were portrayed as rebellion, communism and insurgency. Against this background, anti-racism movements were seen as an insurgency against the West.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz was given the responsibility of hosting Nelson Mandela and other arrangements. The day after his arrival in Karachi, Nelson Mandela also met the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.

Sartaj Aziz says, “(Acting President Wasim Sajjad) gave Nelson Mandela the Pakistan badge on this occasion.” “When I first came, there was no democracy in South Africa, but today we are a democracy,” Mandela said, returning to Pakistan seven years later.

Former Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz says: “The most important thing I saw in Nelson Mandela was that such a great personality, with such a great name and such a great struggle, he lived a very simple life, absolutely free from arrogance. Were I used to get attached to them.

Nelson Mandela also spoke to the press on the occasion of his first visit to Pakistan. He appreciated Pakistan’s stance against racism in the world at every opportunity. Ordinary people were also happy on his arrival in Pakistan.

Sartaj Aziz says Mandela arrived in Pakistan on October 2 and left for China on October 4. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also had a pre-arranged visit to China. “I went with them. Coincidentally, where we were staying, it turned out that Mandela was also staying.

“During his visit to Pakistan, I was busy making arrangements, but in Beijing, we walked together twice in the morning, during which we talked a lot. That gave me more opportunity to talk to them in Beijing. “

“I asked Nelson Mandela how he kept himself mentally strong when he was sentenced to life in prison. Nelson Mandela said that if you believe in your mission, you will automatically develop courage. My faith has never weakened.

Sartaj Aziz says that Nelson Mandela used to talk a lot about India and Pakistan. He spoke of improving relations between the two countries, but he also had a sensitive view of Kashmir.

That is why, after becoming the President of South Africa, when he was chairing the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Durban in 1998, he made a statement about the Kashmir dispute, which India lamented. He had expressed his anger.

At the time, South African President Nelson Mandela, as chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, called Kashmir a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.

“We are all concerned that the Jammu and Kashmir issue should be resolved through peaceful talks and we should be ready for whatever we can to resolve this issue.”

India because the Kashmir issue is a bilateral issue and rejects any third party intervention to resolve it. Contrary to Nelson Mandela’s opinion, the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee came on stage immediately after Mandela’s speech and said that “Kashmir is an integral part of India.”
Indian newspapers also reacted strongly to Mandela’s speech. Some newspapers even said without any hesitation that “instead of calling the conflict in the region a South Asian affair, Mandela shocked India by naming Jammu and Kashmir.”

However, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz welcomed Mandela’s speech, saying Kashmir was an issue that needed to be addressed.

Many observers believe that his speech was intended to push India and Pakistan to disarm and resolve the Kashmir issue.

Mandela’s presidency expires next year. But even before the end of his term, he had visited Pakistan. At that time, Mushahid Hussain hosted them. He says Nelson Mandela came to Pakistan with his daughter on his second visit.

A few years ago, in 2016 and 2017, a grandson of Nelson Mandela, Nicosia Zweilio Mandela, also known as ‘Mandela Mandela’, came to Pakistan. He had earlier converted to Islam and had come to attend a conference on the end of prophethood at the invitation of Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri.

Shortly after Nelson Mandela’s first visit in 1992, Pakistan allowed his political organization, the African National Congress (ANC), to open offices in Pakistan. Until then, the ANC’s legal status in South Africa was controversial.

In his speech in Pakistan, Mandela thanked Pakistan and Pakistanis and said, “I urge all of you to stand up for the government of Pakistan and its people and for the betterment of relations between the two countries.” Goodbye.’

He had said ‘Khuda Hafiz’ in Urdu.

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