“Terrorism will never succeed. Killing a person never succeeds in killing the concepts they stand for,” Egypt’s Ambassador to India, Mohamed Higazy, said.
“Benazir Bhutto reflected the Pakistani people’s desire for democracy,” and her assassination will not take away the concept that she embodied, “Like (Anwar) Sadat, whose death did not remove the urge for peace in West Asia, her removal from the scene will take away the desire for democracy,” he said in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times.
“Fanatics have killed Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi. But their values have not died. We believe in philosophies, we do not believe in advocating individuals,” Higazy said, when asked how Bhutto’s assassination would hurt Pakistan.
“India is playing a major role for peace in the region, and we in Egypt admire what India is doing.” Higazy said in a conversation to commemorate 60 years of diplomatic ties between India and Egypt. “Diplomacy is our mission in life,” he said, speaking of common positions the two countries share. “War means destruction. We have developed mechanisms to seek diplomatic solutions," said Higazy, while expressing satisfaction at India's increasing influence in West Asia.
Joint cooperation to counter terrorism is a major facet of the bilateral relationship, but Higazy was reluctant to specify details of that cooperation.
The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the signing of an agreement between India and Egypt on the abolition of visa requirements for diplomatic, official and service passport holders to commemorate the event. While there have been several high-level visits, with Shivraj Patil the most recent visitor to Egypt, summit level meetings remain in the distant future.
More than 70,000 Indians visited Egypt last year and, with the numbers set to rise, Egyptair plans to raise its number of flights to this country to seven from the current three, Higazy said. Cairo is designing a programme to attract more tourists based on the “Incredible India” campaign and has offered its expertise in the sphere of monument preservation as an additional attraction.
The two countries revived the bilateral Joint Commission in December 2006 (after a six-year hiatus) and have signed a partnership agreement specifying a follow-up mechanism for the road map they have set out to raise the “excellent” level of relations between India and Egypt. With bilateral trade touching $2.17 billion last year, information technology, e-governance, choosing Egypt as a hub for Africa, and tourism appear set to drive the ancient civilizational ties into the new century.
“When India excels in any area, it helps us. It is to our good,”Higazy said.