ISLAMABAD: Leading economists, politicians, journalists, foreign policy and development experts on Monday celebrated the successes and achievement of Sartaj Aziz as a living legend of Pakistan.
They were speaking at a special seminar titled ‘A Tribute to a Living Legend: Celebrating Life and Work of Sartaj Aziz’ organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), at Islamabad.
SDPI Executive Director (ED) Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that one proof of living nations is that they honour and respect the creative geniuses living among them. He said that Pakistan should also celebrate its greats and consider it a source of optimism in society.
“The legends series was started to invite role models so that they are heard and their experience is disseminated to the youth, who have restricted themselves to tabs and mobiles,” he added.
Dr Hafeez A Pasha, Former Finance Minister said that Sartaj Aziz as the finance minister was a very capable captain and never lost his cool even in a difficult situation. He said Sartaj Aziz has incredible capability and intellect as well as grip and authority on the subject of the economy and foreign affairs.
Jalil Abbas Jilani, former ambassador of Pakistan to the USA said that great people are known by their knowledge, integrity and dedication to the social services, and Sartaj Aziz has the all these qualities which distinguish him. He said that Sartaj Aziz is recognised as consensus builder and builder of institutions. “His performance was outstanding in every field, be it finance minister, foreign minister or minister of food and agriculture,” he added.
Senior journalist and anchorperson Saleem Safi said that Sartaj Aziz’s contribution in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) reforms was tremendous and an out of the box job, which would be remembered in history.
Boston University Dean Dr Adil Najam said that Sartaj Aziz should have been my president at least twice which in fact could elevate the institution of the presidency. He also said that Sartaj should’ve been a development minister instead of a foreign minister.
Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri said that Sartaj Aziz is a repository of knowledge and talking to him like talking to Google. “Sartaj has the ability to bring people together and build consensus,” he said while adding that Sartaj is also role model for civil servants.
BISP Chairperson Dr Sania Nishter said that Sartaj Aziz has unique attributes of integrity, acumen, attitude, loyalty and vision, which distinguish him as a great human being.
Advisor to PM for Institutional Reforms and Austerity of Pakistan Dr Ishrat Hussain said that it is our usual attitude that we often admire our legend after their demise, but SDPI’s effort to honour living legends in their lives is commendable. He said that Sartaj has the competency, compassion, commitment and character to turn around the things. “He is a man of character who would never compromise on his principles,” he said while adding that Pakistan needs politicians like Sartaj Aziz and those who have such attributes.
“Sartaj Aziz deserves to be the president of Pakistan, which is least that this country owes to him,” he further added.
The former finance minister was overwhelmed by the remarks of panellists and termed it as an emotional occasion of his life. He said that he has both successes and disappointments to share and that the real secret of his successes was his sense of commitment to certain ideals.
“The guiding principle of my career was searching for vision which helped me look beyond routine parameters. The most important thing in one’s life is the impact one is able to make on other people’s lives,” he said.
While sharing disappointments throughout his life, Sartaj said that owing to recurrent political instability, Pakistan failed to achieve the dream of the fastest growing economy of South Asia. He said that it was our collective failure to build a strong and stable democracy, which resulted in the loss of East Pakistan. “Pakistan can survive as a dynamic and viable political entity only through a genuine democratic framework based on strong institutions and the rule of law,” he said.
He suggested that to meet the institutional challenges, we need to strictly follow the merit criteria, stop political interference, giving due importance to professionals and work with a passion for Pakistan and not for money.