ISLAMABAD: The tradition of foreign, visiting dignitaries planting trees in a country is so unique to Islamabad that the Capital Development Authority is vying for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Planted at the Garden Avenue in Shakarparian, the practice began on February 21, 1964, when Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, sowed a seed of the Chinese Tallow Tree. Since then, more than 110 ceremonial trees have been planted there. “This tradition does not take place anywhere else in the world,” said Ramzan Sajid, spokesperson for CDA. “We are making an effort to get it registered in the Guinness Book of World Records.” He said such activities were important for strengthening bilateral relations between countries.
However, it has been two years since any head of state planted a tree here. The last one was Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, who planted a Mangolia Gandiflora in 2007. Chinese dignitaries have planted the most number of trees. They include former Vice Premier of the Peoples Republic of China Keng Piao in June 1978, former Prime Minister Zhao Ziayang in June 1981, former President Li Xiannian in March 1984, among others. The King of Saudi Arabia Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz planted a Chinese Tallow Tree back in 1966.
Among other known state guests were President of Republic of Indonesia General Soeharto who planted a Chir Pine in 1980, Head of State of Turkey General Kehan Evern in 1981, Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Bin Mohammad planted Chir Pine in 1984, President of Socialist Republic of Romania Nicolae Ceausescu planted a Chir Pine in 1984, and the ruler of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who planted a Chir Pine in 1987.
Other former heads of state include President of Iran Hojjatoleslam Akbar Hashmi Rafsanjani, President of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyyan, President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Chandrika Bandaranike Kumaratunga, Sultan of Oman Qaboos Bin Said and PM of Lebanon Rafic Al Hariri.
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