Algerian Ambassador Lakhal Benkelali hosted a reception at Serena hotel on Monday evening to celebrate his country’s independence day from colonial rule.
The day is usually marked on November 1, which was a Sunday, and commemorating the start of the eight-year-long independence war against French colonial power in 1954.
The movement for independence began during World War I but gained real force after France failed to offer the colony greater autonomy after the end of World War II.
The eight-year war between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French colonial troops took at least 350,000 lives, with some estimates suggesting death tolls as high as 1.5 million. Eventually, in 1959, French President Charles de Gaulle declared that the Algerians had the right to self-determination, and after various delays, the France declared a ceasefire to start from March 18, 1962. A month later, the Evian Accords were agreed upon, leading to independence of Algeria a couple of months later.
With a population of over 39 million Algeria is classified as an upper middle income country, thanks largely to its hydrocarbon revenue.
A rose petal-laden red carpet welcomed guests to the spacious hall, where a mix of Pakistani and Algerian foods was on offer, with emphasis on fish and pilaf-style dishes.
Most of the ambassadors in attendance were seated on a stage where they were interacting with guests, including chief guest Pervaiz Rashid — the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
There were also small displays of Algerian art and sculptures, along with reading material on Algeria’s history, including the Roman ruins in the country.
Unusually for a diplomatic event, there were no prepared speeches by the ambassador or the chief guest, which gave guests the opportunity to quickly hit the tables for the scrumptious food.
Hamza, a Pakistani guest, said he enjoyed the event and was happy to see people from “brotherly countries” coming together to celebrate with Algerians.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2015.