Accepting the invitation of Election Commission of Uzbekistan, a Pakistani delegation including myself, General ® AsadDurrani and his wife, Mr. GhousBuxMahar, Mr. Irfanullah khan among others departed to Tashkent on 30th November 2016 at 6 in the morning, as International Observers to monitor the presidential electionsto be held on 4th December 2016. It was a long journey by Turkish airline.It took six hours to reach Istanbul followed by a six hours stay at Istanbul airport and then five hours flight to Tashkent. This time span could have been shortened to 3 hours had there been a direct flight to Tashkent or perhaps one that goes through Dubai instead of Istanbul. Uzbek Ambassador to Pakistan H.E. FurkatA.Siddikov and his staff Mr. Zaffar, Mr. Muzzafar and others were present at Islamabad Airport to see us off and for facilitation in embarking. We reached Tashkent at 11.30PM on 30th November 2016. There is no time difference between Pakistan and Uzbekistan. We fall in the same time zone. Uzbekistan Air Line is one of the best in the world having Dream Aero planes, which are known to spacious and are equipped with better facilities. We were received with great respect at a separate immigration, VVIP lounge and every delegate was provided a bag of literature about Election rules and regulations, about history of the country etc. As we come out with two hand bags, one in each hand, two gentlemen relieved us of the weight stating that we are thrir host; one was Mr. Makhmud A. Abdurakhmanov Deputy of Chairman of the Board IPOTEKA bank and Mr. Izzatbek as translator from Khiva region, a promising man . They took us to Hotel LOTTE, a five star Hotel in a Chevrolet car, where a comfortable room was waiting for us.
Uzbekistan announced independence on 31st August 1991 from Soviet Union. The defeat of Soviet Union in Afghanistan provided this opportunity, an event attributed to efforts of Pakistan. Pakistan considers the fall of soviets a victory on two counts: (1) It served as a revenge for East Pakistan separation and (2) this resulted in the freedom of 15 Central Asian states, Uzbekistan is one of them. Uzbeks may not understand this for the time being but it was the desire of the Muslims of Pakistanis to get Uzbekistan freed from the clutches of Soviet Union eversince its occupation by Soviets in 1865. It may be true that Muslims no longer rule India, however, the Mughals of that time and the Muslims of Pakistan alive now, share a centuries old bond with the Uzbeks. As the people of Uzbekistan claim that theirs Country is of Amir Temur whose grandson was Zahiruddin Babur, the first Mogul Emperor of India. The Moguls drive their origin from Turkey. With them came Syed families, Pushtoon, Khawajas and others. Uzbekistan is also a country of Imam Bukhari who compiled most reliable Ahadis sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be up on him). Other great ancestors of Uzbekistan are Muhammad AlKhorzmi (780-863), Ahmad Al-Farghoni(798-861), Imam Abu Mansur Al-Matroudi(872-950) Abu Nasar Muhammad Al-Farabi(872-950), AbulRihan Muhammad Ibn Ahmed Alberuni(973-1048-1051), AbuAliibne Sino(980-1037)Burkhoniddin Al-Marghiloni(1118-1197), MirzaUlghbek (1394-1449), AlisherNavoi (1441-1501), KamoliddinBkhzof(1455-1535). And Last but not least Islam Karimov who died 4th September 2016 who has changed the entire Uzbekistan to a modern state. He is respected in Uzbekistan as a father of this modern state.
As election activities could be observed while sight seeing, this experience proved to be delightful one. Tashkent, is a place full of trees, statues/Sculptures and 20 Museums of reflecting different time periods in history like that of Amir Timor, AlisherNovey and others. Tashkent, a city of 3.5 million people, is as clean and beautiful as Geneva, Switzerland. On 1st December, we started our journey to discover the ancient origins of Tashkent. We visited Statues of Independence, a happy woman sitting with her child, reflecting the joyous nature of Uzbeks while indicating prosperity and depicting that humanity is prospering. Just few hundred meters away, there is a list of martyrs who died in Second World War, fighting alongwith Soviet Army, to Germans. The list is printed on brass plates (4X3 feet) sheets in the shape of the book area wise. Each Book contains 50-100 brass pages and there were several such books in different areas; a very unique way of remembering their loved ones. The statue of a sad woman is also placed there and with a burning fire as sign of hope that some day their loved ones who have gone to fight a war shall come back. This was also a unique and strong manner of expression. Then we went to see a Museum and a grave built in the memory of those elites and entrepreneurs of Uzbekistan who were killed by Joseph Stalin of Soviet Union out of fear that someday they might revolt and endanger the Soviet empire. A total of 6920 leaders, elites and entrepreneurs were butchered and thousands were taken to concentration camps. The Museum which is rich in history shows the arms of Uzbeks and Soviet Union soldiers, newspapers of that times SADA E FARGHANA, the miseries that people suffered showns in photos from concentration camps. This reminded me of the struggle of Indian Muslims and other Indians that were subjected to extreme torture and were sent to black water (Island). We lost our independence in 1857 and Uzbekistan came under the yoke of Soviet Union in 1865. There had been a forest where a single grave with beautiful monument has been built with a canal where water is flowing smoothly without any noise.
Later on, we visited Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Language. Dr. Sirajuddin S. Nurmatov Chairman of South Asian Language Department received us at the gate of the institute. Students were onvacation due to the elections allowing the professors and lecturers along with the Vice Chancellor Dr. Gulcherahra Sh. Rikhsieva, to meet with us. I thanked them and expressed my first impression and excitement of visiting Uzbekistan as my forefathers went to India from this land. I had a dream to visit this land to find my roots. The three monuments we visited depict the artistic expression of the people of Uzbekistan, meaning thereby Late Islam Karimov. Dr. Gulchera in response welcomed me and explained about the faculties of the institute and said 50 of the students of this institute became diplomats in different countries of the world as they were taught many languages in addition to philosophy, Economics and Chinese studies. She advised me to visit Pakistani Corner on the second floor, a classroom with photos of QuideAzam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, furnished with desks and computers. It was told that all material in this room was provided by Pakistan. They had books from Muqtadara Pakistan which was a dictionary of common words in Uzbek and Urdu language. This department has 15 member staff. Some of themare Prof. Ummeeda, Mukhlesa, Mehri, Prof. Sirajuddin and Dr. BayotRakhmantov who was translating and making the communications possible. Prof. Dr. D. OMONOV KUDRATULLA Dean of faculty Oriental Philosophy accompanied me in this visit. It was quite exciting to visit Pakistani Corner. Pakistan has to provide more articles, facilities and funds to make this corner richer in books and attractive.
On 2nd December 2016, there was an international Conference at International Hotel Tashkent, where delegates from all over the world were present. I gave my point of view saying that Election Commission of Uzbekistan has provided equal opportunities and facilities to all candidates in both print and electronic media. As it was a Friday we went to offer Jumma Prayers in White mosque built by Late President Islam Karimov, the arch of which was decorated with 29 Kilos of Gold. This mosque can accommodate 5000 people; we met Anwar Qari, the Imam of this mosque in his Hujrah. He appreciated very much and asked me if I have eaten Palao. I said yes. He offered to cook Pulawo for me, on my next visit. He said that Islam Karimov has built more than two thousand mosques, as compared to 200 in Soviet era and they were not allowed to offer prayers even. We visited another mosque star called Islam Karimov mosque on Farghana Road in Tashkent. This one was very beautiful, richly carpeted in green and decorated with beautiful carvings. This mosque had a Madrasa and small Museum with many religious books and the Holy Quran.
We also visited the Musuem and Minarat where HazratUsman’s(R,Unha) Quraan was placed. This is Quraan read by Haza tUsman when he was martyred and the spot of blood could be found. This Quraan was brought by Amir Temor from Iraq.
On 3rd December 2016, we visited the “magical city of Samarkand which is situated in the valley of the river Zarafshan. It is the second largest city of Uzbekistan and is of the same age as the city of Babylon or Rome. The history of Samarkand is about 2,750 years old and has witnessed a lot of upheavals during the times of Alexander the Great, the Arabic conquest, Chinghis-Khan conquest and lastly Tamerlane’s (Amir Temur 1336-1405), who was the founder of the great empire with Samarkand as the capital. It included Mahravenahr, Khorazm, the region located round the Caspian Sea, the territory of present day Afghanistan some parts of India, Iraq, Iran, part of Caucasus and many other countries located in the west Asia. He revived the world’s transcontinental trade route the great Silk Road across Maverannahr. Hence, the culture of Samarkand was developed and mixed together with the Iranian, Indian, Mongolian and a bit of the Western and Eastern cultures. Majestic and beautiful city Samarkand has a marvelous and attractive power. Poets and historians of the past called it “Rome of the East, The beauty of sublunary countries, the pearl of the Eastern Moslem World”. It’s advantageous, as a geographical position in Zarafshan valley put the city to the first place among cities of the Central Asia, where Imam Abu Abdullah ibn Ismail al Bukhari the compiler of most authentic sayings of Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Up On him) called Ahadis e Bhukhari shrine is located. He was born in 194 hijra( 810 A,D). Here Gul e Jahan was our interpreter. She told me that she has come after reading about me online.
We paid respect to Imam Bukhari and visited the Museum where holy Quraans, presented by many head of Muslim States are displayed. Among them are Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister of Pakistan, Tayyab Urdagan of Turkey and others.
We paid our respects at the grave Late Islam Karimov sthe former President of Uzbekistan, as verses from the Holy Quran was recited to ease his soul. After that we visited Amir Temur tomb. I tried to buy one memento but my guest insisted to pay. During the length of the stay, my host Mr. Makhmud did not allow me to spend anything, though it was very kind of him it, however, restricted me to buy with free will and in abundance. They say Guest is like a father. Whatever he desires, if it is within rules the host will provide. We went by train and came back by the fast train which travels 130 Kilometer an hour, but that morning there was technical fault; it was slower than usual.The announcement by authorities was made “As the train was late to reach Samarkand, the passengers can take their money back either from Samarkand or Tashkent. What a fair system! There were other places like BIBIKHANUM, Ulugbek’s madarsah, the observatory could not be seen due to time limitation. We had our lunch in Restaurant Patan. When we returned to Tashkent Mr. Makhmud presented a dress to which we call KHILAAT that means I am strong man and a Chief of the tribe.
On 4th December 2016, we were busy in the elections. It has been described in other part.
On 5th December 2016, we visited The Religion city Bukhara. As per pamphlet provided to us, “ it is one the most ancient cities in central Asia. Developed on the cross roads of the ancient silk road, most of the monuments of this Oriental city date back to the middle Ages. Throughout the centuries, the location of the city has not changed despite being destroyed several times by wars, the city was rebuilt in its prior location. The Archaeological excavationrevealed several layers of ancient settlements under ground up-to 20 meters. Remains of dwellings, public buildings and fortifications were discovered under thick layer of ground. Today, Bukhara is represented by beautiful mosques, Madrassah, and remains of fortifications that protected the city from foreign conquerors. We visited the fort, a mosque, a madasahand Kalyan minaret.” As recorded by historians and confirmed by our host that when Changez Khan conquered Bukhara, he ordered to destroy every thing in Bukhara except this minaret. It so happened that while staring at the minaret his hat fell to the ground as he had to tilt his head backwards to record its height through his sight. This compelled him to leave the minaret be as he had to bow down to pick up his hat. He stated that he never bowed in front of anybody or thing but to this minaret, therefore he will not destroy the whole complex. The mausoleum of Ismail Samani, was an art of architects, giving rise to the thought it perhaps carries some message hidden in calculations undertaken for the construction of this beautiful mausoleum. Ms. Khadija was our interpreter who had a good command over English and history. We had breakfast in Shirin Plaza Hotel and lunch in Chinar Restuarant. We went to Bukhara by plane and came back by plane as we have to attend the feast arranged by Election commission of Uzbekistan in Tashkaent. We visited the tomb of Imam Bahauddin Naqshbandi, of his mother and others.
The feast was well attended, well organized, serving good food and entertainment by regional dancesfull of style and showing regional culture. My host Mr. Makhmud and Mr. Izzat were initially not invited to the Banquet but eventually succeeded in inviting them. This gave me satisfaction that my companions were given the same respect as they were giving me. This reminded me my efforts that on the occasion of China’s golden Jubilee in 1999, when I headed a senior journalists delegation. I was invited but my delegation was not invited, a request was made to invite all of my team members to be invited. Chinese accepted my request. We met the Chairman of election Commission of Uzbekistan Mirza Ulag Baig and many other officials of Uzbek Election Commission.
The last day of our stay, on 6th December 2016, we went to valley of Farghana, the place from where the Mughols came with Zahiruddin Babur. “Ferghana valley is the most highly populated region in Uzbekistan. It is mainly known for its fertile soil & reaches national diversity. Main cities of this region are Ferghana, Andijan, Manghilan, Kokand, Rishtan. The son of the ruler of Ferghana Zahirddin Muhammad Babur (1483-1530) is the well known historian, poet, and writer. The last ruler from Temuris’s. He was the founder of the dynasty and the empire of the great Moghols in India (1525), which reigned over the country for 336 years.” We travelled by plane and were given ministerial protocol. A police car escorted us from Adidjan 80 Kilometer from city of Farghana, the place of Babur, where the Museum and symbolic tomb of Babur has been built. The resident of this city claim relation with Babur and consider it mandatory that newly wed couple should pay respect to Babur’s symbolic tomb. I saw a couple going up the hill, to the place where Babur’s tomb has been built. I went to them and as a tradition gave salami (some money). This was appreciated by the families of the newly wed couple and our accompanying friends saying that the couple and the families will never forget this gesture of yours. We visited the museum, where Nargisia was the care taker. Mr. Rustum Khan Vice president of the Babur Society presented two Books in Uzbek language about Zahiruddin Babur. We visited a silk factory in Farghana, where I bought some silk cloth, the payment of which was made by my host as usual. We had lunch in Farghana city in the Restaurant Anaar. The security guards and staff members of the bank of Mr. Makhmud also dinned. As we were free since the plane has to take off four hour later. The host arranged my short stay in Asia Hotel. The room was one unit type where its’ drawing and living room was on one floor and the bed room on the second. We stayed there for few hours then went to a beautiful restaurant and then to the airport. We reached Tashkent and hotel at night. Mr. Makhmud has given treasures of Books and memento from hisIPOTEKA bank. As I had to go by the morning flight to Dubai and then to Karachi, our host left early to give me some time to rest. At 5.30 am we started for Tashkent International Airport accompanied by host. They facilitated me at airport. My Samsonite Suitcase purchased in 1977 has cracked by the airline so they wrapped it in plastic. Mr. Makhmud and Mr. Izzat waited till I boarded the plane, as a sign of respect, impressing me too much as all other hosts had left as soon as they saw that their guest in the departure lounge. Mr. Makhmud took me to the best restaurants of the city of Tashkent like the Marco polo, the Marmirus, the April etc. Two and half hours flight from Tashkent to Dubai and waiting of five hours, I reached Karachi at 11.30 P.M. with sweet memory of Uzbekistan. While, I was at Dubai Airport, I received the call from Mr. Zafar Uzbek embassy in Islamabad to give me good news that I have to go to Uzbekistan in March 2017 during the festival of No rose. It was nice words taken as encouragement.