For his Pakistani friends and colleagues, Rodolfo J Martin-Saravia, the ambassador of Argentina to Pakistan, is almost a Pakistani. The ambassador seems to agree and the Pakistani government is not far behind in its appreciation for the Argentine envoy, either.
Saravia, who has been serving as the Argentine ambassador in Pakistan for almost 10 years now, was recently recognised by the government of Pakistan for his services towards strengthening Pak-Argentine bilateral relations.
President Mamnoon Hussain conferred the Hilal-e-Pakistan, the country’s second highest civilian award, on Saravia on March 23 in a ceremony at the Presidency.
On Wednesday evening, the ambassador hosted a reception at his residence to celebrate the award with his Pakistani and foreign friends and colleagues.
Saravia, who wore the Hilal-e-Pakistan medal with pride at the reception, said he felt really good about getting the award and could not have passed an opportunity to celebrate it with his friends and colleagues.
“It’s very difficult to express how I feel about being granted such an important award. Some people say I deserved it. I don’t think I deserved it but I will definitely not give it back,” Saravia quipped, his light-hearted humour drawing cheers from the guests.
The ambassador took up diplomatic duties in Islamabad in August 2004. He has been the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Pakistan since July 2012. Saravia is also the non-resident Argentine ambassador to Afghanistan and to Tajikistan since 2005 and 2011 respectively.
Saravia, 67, said the great thing about being awarded a civilian medal during diplomatic tenure was that you could enjoy it with friends in that country. He also said he was proud of feeling like “almost a Pakistani.”
Talking to The Express Tribune, Saravia described being a Pakistani as being warm and hospitable. He said he had found Pakistanis to be resilient, welcoming and generous people who reciprocate friendliness with hospitality and enduring friendship.
After thanking his wife Susana for her love and support, Saravia said his admiration for Pakistan will not end with his posting here.
“When my posting comes to an end, I believe I will sort of be a live advertisement for Pakistan abroad,” the ambassador said.
Cristina Von Sperling Afridi, an Islamabad-based environmental activist and restaurateur who attended the reception, said Saravia has earned the respect of his Pakistani colleagues through his professional dedication and personal affability.
Saravia said the occasion was even more special because his dear friend Lieut-Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan, who was like a brother to him, had joined the celebration. Khan returned Saravia’s warm feelings.
“It is our great honour to have an ambassador in our midst who is in our hearts and our imagination and who will always be remembered,” Khan told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2014.