Decades ago, as school kid, I had read an English poem, called the ‘Brooks’ from William Wordsworth, which reminded the people that ‘men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever’. What a tremendous message it was, always fresh in memory, and a lesson for lifetime. We had nearly three dozen foreign heads of diplomatic missions in Karachi, but some of them by their conduct, gestures, and habits, leave deep imprints on the hearts and minds of the people. Russian Consul General Oleg Avdeev was one of them. For three weeks, he had farewells from friends, diplomatic fraternity, and media men.
But before leaving he delivered a tremendous speech at one of these functions wherein he felt happy that ties between Russian Federation, which had deteriorated to the extent of hostility when the country was known as Soviet Socialist Republic, or USSR, and Pakistan have begun to revive and have reached a level where it can be described as satisfactory.
He said he also contributed his bit during the three years of posting in Karachi, and felt confident that these ties will continue to grow from strength to strength. Already substantial progress had been made in fields of defence, development, investment in the form of a US $ 2 billion pipeline from Karachi to Peshawar. And with keenness and desire on both sides, top-level exchanges between the leadership of the two countries, it has advanced to a great extent.
But Oleg for four successive days, had dinners, lunches, even breakfasts from those close to him or liking him for his courtesy and kind behavior. The President of the Pak-Russia Business Alliance, Rauf Tabani honoured him with a farwell at select gathering of eminent businessmen, followed by chairman of the Pak-Russian Business Forum of FPCCI Muhammad Farooq Afzal at Karachi Gymkkhana, dinner by the Bangla Desh Consul General Noor-e-Helal Saifur Rehman, and finally his own welfare dinner for friends, and contacts at a local hotel. At all these gatherings, Oleg was paid eloquent tributes from hosts, and many more, like President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Zubair Tufail, President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shamim Firpo, vice-President of the FPCCi, and honorary Consul General of Morocco Mirza Ishtiaq Baig,Senator Haseeb Khan, and others. They all lauded his services for promoting bilateral relationship between Russian Federation, emerging again as a major power, and Pakistan.
He said he was deeply touched by the warmth shown by the people of Karachi. Although he was not knew to sub-continent, having spent 14 years in Kolkatta and Delhi, and Bangla Desh, he thought Karachi was his ‘best posting’. He was overwhelmed by the hospitality and courtesies extended to him and assistance extended in building up goodwill and economic ties with his country. He did not have words to express himself, but he could not help putting on record that Karachi will ‘always live in my heart’, and ‘ I am carrying unforgettable memories of my three years stay in Karachi’. Oleg left Friday morning for home, with prayers from Karachittes that perhaps after few years he will return to Pakistan at elevated position of Ambassador.