For one Pakistani artist, a lifetime spent creating medallion portraits of Saudi leaders

A Pakistani artist Khalil Najmi holds a portrait of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz at his residence in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 21, 2021. (AN Photo)
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Updated 23 September 2021

For one Pakistani artist, a lifetime spent creating medallion portraits of Saudi leaders

  • Khalil Najmi, a medallion portrait artist from Karachi, has created several images of Saudi kings and the crown prince
  • Najmi says it was King Faisal’s charismatic personality that inspired him to nurture his passion for art

KARACHI: It was February 1974. A Pakistani teenager Khalil Najmi was glued to his black and white television set in Karachi when he saw King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz at the Islamic Summit in Lahore and decided to sketch his portrait.
The young Pakistani was mesmerized by the charismatic Saudi leader and felt the urge to know more about the kingdom and its royal family. His interest in the Arab country increased in subsequent years, making him work on the medallion portraits of its leaders including King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“My father was in Merchant Navy and brought me a portrait of King Faisal,” he told Arab News. “I was deeply moved by the inscription under the image that labeled him as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques since that is not how kings usually describe their role.”
Najmi had an artistic bent since the beginning and used to engrave images on chalks and erasers during school days. He said that King Faisal’s appearance in Lahore was a “turning point” in his life since it made him realize that he wanted to make portraits of high-profile leaders.
As he continued with his creative endeavors, he started carving out images from wood and other objects.




Pakistani artist Khalil Najmi is creating wooden image of the famous philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi at his residence in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 21, 2021. (AN Photo)

“When I began carving portraits of heads of states in 2012, I made the image of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on wood,” he said. “In 2016, I completed the portraits of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”




Portraits of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rehman Al Saud (center) and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (right) can be seen at the residence of Khalil Najmi in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 21, 2021. (AN Photo)

The Pakistani artist maintained he was not creating “simple pieces of art,” adding that the nature of his job required “years of dedication, concentration and hard work.”
“I began my work on the current set of portraits in 2016 and completed nine of them which include three sets in three different mediums. The medallion portraits are for those who cannot see but want to imagine what their leaders look like.”




Medallion portraits of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rehman Al Saud (center) and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (right) are displayed at the residence of Khalil Najmi in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 21, 2021. (AN Photo)

Elaborating his point further, he said he had once met a visually impaired man in Karachi who expressed his desire to see Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
“I put his hands on my medallion portrait of Jinnah and he gently ran his fingers on it as if he was trying to create the image in his mind,” he said. “After a while, this man started crying uncontrollably and repeatedly thanked me for helping him feel how Jinnah must have looked like.”
Najmi’s work includes portraits of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid and Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman. He is currently working on the portrait of Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates.
“One of my hand-carved portraits of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of was acquired by the office of Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and was presented to the Middle Eastern leader in January this year,” he said.
Asked about his ultimate dream as an acclaimed artist, he said he wanted to present the portraits of Saudi leaders to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“I have produced these portraits with great love for the Saudi royal family,” he said. “I hope he can graciously grant me the honor to personally present them to him as a souvenir.”




Pakistani artist Khalil Najmi poses for a picture at his residence in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 21, 2021. (AN Photo)

 


FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

Updated 9 sec ago

FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

  • The global dirty money watchdog put Pakistan on a list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their financial system in June 2018
  • The outcome of the plenary will be announced on Thursday after the meeting comes to an end

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force announced the beginning of its new plenary on Tuesday in which it will take up a number of issues and determine if Pakistan can be removed from a list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their financial system.
The global dirty money watchdog placed Pakistan on its “grey list” of countries in June 2018 since it found vulnerabilities in its financial system which could be exploited for terror financing and money laundering.
Pakistan has tried to address the FATF concerns by implementing the recommended action plan, and its progress has also been acknowledged by the international body.
“The Financial Action Task Force Plenary has started,” the FATF announced in a Twitter post. “Due to COVID-19 it is a hybrid meeting, with delegates from around the world meeting virtually and in person.”


According to a statement issued by the global watchdog, “the outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on Thursday 21 October, at the close of the meeting.”
The meeting, which is taking place under the German presidency of Dr. Marcus Pleyer, will also be observed by global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said earlier this year there was “no justification” for the FATF to keep his country on the grey list since it had taken extensive measures to curb money laundering and terror financing.
“We will have to see if the FATF is a technical forum or … being used for political purposes,” he added.
The global financial watchdog recently expressed satisfaction with Pakistan’s progress, though it also gave the country another action plan to fix a separate set of problems to strengthen the financial system further.


Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

Updated 19 October 2021

Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now
  • The United States did not join this round of talks in Moscow but said it planned to do so in the future

MOSCOW: Russia, China and Pakistan are willing to provide aid to Afghanistan, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday, but Moscow said it was not yet ready to recognize the Taliban government.
The promise of humanitarian aid and economic support came after talks between Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials, who will be joined by representatives of Afghanistan’s Islamist rulers at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was withholding recognition from the Taliban while waiting for them to fulfil promises they made when they took power, including on the political and ethnic inclusivity of the new government.
Critics say the former rebel movement is backtracking on pledges not to sideline women and minorities, or persecute foes.
“Official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now,” Lavrov told reporters. “Like most of other influential countries in the region, we are in contact with them. We are prodding them to fulfil the promises they made when they came to power.”
RUSSIA SEEKS LEADERSHIP
In mid-August, the Afghan government collapsed as the United States and allies withdrew troops after 20 years on the ground, leading the Taliban to seize power in a lightning offensive.
Russia, which fought its own disastrous war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, is trying to seize the diplomatic initiative to avoid instability in the wider region that could damage its interests.
In particular it is worried by the possibility of Islamist militants seeping into the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, a region Moscow views as a defensive buffer.
Other Russian officials have tempered expectations for Wednesday’s talks. The United States said it would not join this round but planned to do so in the future.
Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, said last week he did not expect any major breakthrough at the talks.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described them as “an attempt to know what will happen in Afghanistan going forward.”


Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

Updated 19 October 2021

Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

  • The Pakistani foreign minister says sustained international engagement is essential to address the situation in Afghanistan
  • The Iranian FM says Tehran fully supports Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on the war-battered country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasized “close coordination” among Afghanistan’s neighboring states to ensure greater peace and stability in the region during a phone call with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday.
According to the foreign office of Pakistan, Qureshi received a call from the Iranian foreign minister Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian who invited the Pakistan to participate in the second ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan which is scheduled to be held in Tehran next week.
The Iranian official discussed the overall regional security situation during the conversation while pointing out that Tehran fully supported Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on Afghanistan.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked his Iranian counterpart for the invitation and expressed the hope that the meeting would impart further impetus to the regional approach on the situation in Afghanistan,” the foreign office said in a statement. “He emphasized that close coordination was essential to help Afghanistan on path to peace, stability and development.”
Qureshi emphasized that sustained international engagement was essential in view of the evolving economic situation in Afghanistan.
“He expressed the hope that international community would ramp up provision of humanitarian assistance on urgent basis, in view of the upcoming winter season, and take steps to ensure economic stability in the country,” the statement added.
The first ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries was held in September after Pakistan urged China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to come together and discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The ministerial meeting was also preceded by a virtual meeting of the special representatives and envoys of the six neighboring states for Afghanistan.


Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

Updated 19 October 2021

Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

  • Several Pakistani social media users shared photos of the country’s bright decor to mark the occasion
  • The day began with 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute across provincial capitals

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Tuesday celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), with cities around the country lit up with beautiful colors.
The day began with 31-gun salute in the federal capital, Islamabad, and 21-gun salute across the provincial capitals.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed with great religious zeal on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan requested the nation to celebrate the occasion this year like “never before” in a video message shared across his official social media accounts on October 16, 2021.

President Arif Alvi also maintained it was imperative for Muslims to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) since it was “the key to their success” in this world and the hereafter.
“The only solution to all the challenges facing the Muslim ummah, including anarchy, hypocrisy, oppression and injustice, can be found in the life of the Prophet (PBUH),” he said.


Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Geoffrey Shaw shared on his official Twitter account that his local friends had sent him sweet rice, a traditional dish people serve while observing Mawlid Al-Nabi.

 


The country’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party shared a shot of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence decked out to mark the occasion.

 

 

 


A Twitter user from Rawalpindi shared a number of images, showing bright lights in mosques, market and alleyways.

 

 

 

 

 


Journalist Ali Tanoli shared images of Islamabad from the night before, showing landmarks like Faisal Mosque and Bari Imam lit up.

 

 


Twitter user Syed Hashir Shah shared photos of lights hanging above bustling markets in Karachi, Pakistan.

 

 

 


Journalist Waseem Abbasi posted the photo of Pakistan’s largest Rabi Al-Awwal cake ordered by the authorities in the federal capital on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 

 


Discover Pakistan TV, the country’s first tourism-dedicated outlet, also shared colorful shots from across the country.

 

 

 

 


PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

Updated 19 October 2021

PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

  • Says will strive to create welfare state in following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
  • Birthday of Prophet (PBUH) is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal by Muslims all over the world

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday his government wanted to establish the rule of law in the country by following the principles established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which required a state to hold its powerful citizens accountable for their misdeeds as well.
Khan made the comment while addressing a national conference in Islamabad as people across the country celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi – or the birth anniversary of the Prophet (PBUH) – with traditional religious fervor.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar, by Muslims all over the world.
The prime minister emphasized in his speech no society could progress without maintaining equal standards of justice for everyone.
“The central pillars of the State of Madinah established by our Prophet (PBUH) were morality and rule of law,” he noted. “A welfare state always looks after its people irrespective of their status. We will have to make the powerful abide by the laws of this country. Otherwise, we will not be able to fix the system.”
He said a leader should be honest and trustworthy, adding that the two qualities were also quite prominent in the Prophet’s own personality.
Khan reiterated he was striving to implement in his country the political ideals that were central to the State of Madinah.
“I will keep on fighting for the rule of law in the country until my last breath,” he continued. “We have to bring the powerful within the ambit of the rule of law.”
The prime minister said his government had formed a special authority to apprise the people about the life and teachings of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH).
“Children have access to all types of information through mobile phones these days,” he said. “The challenge is to show them the right path and direction. The newly established authority will provide guidance to our youth by showing them different aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
He added the objective of setting up an Islamic welfare state that followed the principles of the State of Madinah had been there in his party’s manifesto for 25 years.
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave women right to property which they did not have it before,” he said. “The State of Madinah also introduced the concept of providing pension to older people.”
Earlier, while addressing the first session of the conference, President Dr. Arif Alvi emphasized the need for promoting unity among Muslims in the light of the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH).
“The last Prophet preached not to spread discord and said that Muslims were united like a single body,” Alvi said, adding that the revolution that emerged from the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah had truly transformed the world.
“I have a firm belief that change in Pakistan and the Muslim world will once again come from the mosque which holds special significance in the character building of a nation,” he maintained.
A special documentary on the life of the Prophet (PBUH) was also screened at the conference.