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Pak-Hungary friendship day celebrated in Islamabad

Hungarian govt decorates President of Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood with highest civil award

Ansar M Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Hungary to Pakistan Bela Fazekas has said relations between Hungary and Pakistan are deep-rooted and historical adding the world famous orientalist, Sandor Koreosi Csoma arrived to this part of the world what we call today Pakistan.

The Hungarian ambassador expressed these views on the occasion of celebration of Hungary-Pakistan friendship day. Hungary also decorated President of the Bank of Punjab Zafar Masood with the highest civil award for cementing relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Fazekas further said arrival of Sandor Csoma was the first ever encounter between our two peoples. Korosi came here in his quest to find the descendants of the ancient Hungarian tribes scattering around in Central Asia eleven centuries ago. He never found them, instead he decided to stay on the subcontinent for the rest of his life.

He added, some Hungarian have spent years, some even decades but all of them have largely contributed to the intellectual, cultural scientific life of the 19th century Lahore. ‘It is enough to mention the Punjab University, which was founded in 1882 by the Hungarian scholar, Vilmos Leitner. In 1887 Aurel Stein came to Lahore where he joined the Punjab University as Registrar and later on he was the Principal of Oriental College’, he added.

The ambassador said the long list of Hungarians in Pakistan would not be complete without mentioning the name of August Schofft, the famous painter who came to the Punjab in the 1840s where he spent four years in the court of the Sikh ruler. Schofft has painted pictures one after the other portraying the members of the Sikh ruling family and the everyday life of the court. The paintings went through a very long journey from Lahore to Austro-Hungary from there to London, and then as part of the Princess Bamba Collection back to Lahore.

He said, after more than 150 years of exciting journey these extraordinary pieces of art badly needed a complete restoration. The initiative which came from our embassy became the largest ever cultural project in our bilateral history.

‘The bottleneck of every project is always the financial background. I have to admit that to initiate the project was much easier than to find sponsors. I cannot emphasize enough the role of the Bank of Punjab in this project because without their generous financial support the Schofft paintings, these emblematic pieces of the Pakistani cultural identity could not have been restored back to their original splendor by the Hungarian restorers’.

Ambassador Fazekas said the project became the latest landmark of our cooperation and a permanent topic of the high-level meetings between the leaders of the two countries. He welcomed Zafar Masood the President and CEO of the Bank of Punjab, the man who was behind this generous support with his passion reborn. Zafar Masood survived recent PIA air crash in Karachi.

Zafar Masood in his speech thanked the President of Hungary and Hungarian government for bestowing upon him the highest civil award. He said it was a privilege for him and his institution to support the Hungarian project.

He said BoP supported the project as part of its corporate social responsibility. It was the biggest ever project supported by BoP under its CSR initiative.

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