It is a matter of solidarity, mutual respect and honor that the nationals and institutions of one country or countries attend, participate and even walk in the parade of celebrating independence or other glorious and historic national days of another country. The Somaliland’s 32nd Anniversary from the reassertion of sovereignty from Somalia on 18 May 1991, which has been commemorated in this year 2023 most greater than ever before not only in nationwide but also in the most countries abroad, was also attended by a great number of foreign nationals who strode past the national parade waving Somaliland flags – joyfully marching, interacting and engaging with the citizens. Excluding official delegates from the friendly countries and international organizations and the other distinguished guests invited by the Somaliland Government to this main national event, some of the resident foreign community groups namely Pakistanis and tourists of nearly twenty nationalists attended including American, British, Irish, Dutch, Norwegian, Germany, French, Italian, Belgian, Austrian, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Australian, New Zealanders and Russian.
However, it is the remarkable performance of the Pakistani community that I will shortly elaborate in this Article, to appreciate and mark their achievement and also to reiterate key issues they discussed, requests they made and recommendations they provided for Somaliland Government in regards to attracting and promoting foreign investment flow, leveraging cooperation with the foreign communities resident in Somaliland as well as their homeland countries https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rurhuJ7OalE
Celebrating 18 May for the second year with Somaliland, the Pakistani community made outstanding preparation and high commitment for the willing participation they demonstrated. They organized themselves well and made fundraising among them for printing the largest flags presented in the parade and boards as well as reshaping and decoration of Hargeisa Radio Roundabout with authorization they sought from Hargeisa Local Government. In spite of the fact that most of them were stranded by the temporary traffic movement suspension for the parade day, yet, the Pakistanis organized 200 members, almost one-fourth of their community population resident in Somaliland. About fifty members led by their chairman, Dr. Anmol Asghar, carrying Somaliland and Pakistan flags tied together parallel in 12mx3m length with several members, other members holding up 3m high billboard with the message “Welcome to Somaliland, Somaliland is safe” by two members, all them waving Somaliland flag and emphatically saying at a time “Long live Somaliland” in Somali language “Somaliland ha noolaato.” “It was all our own initiative and decision to contribute something and share the happiness with our brothers and sisters of Somaliland for the second time. Because we feel it as our home and we don’t really do this for benefits, Wallah, it is just the true feelings coming from our heart. We love Somaliland as a country and as brotherly people as we like our homeland country, Pakistan. We raised some $4,500 from our community members to decorate the roundabout near Radio Hargeisa and print these billboards and banners for the event and with our message to the world,” said Dr. Anmo Asghar, Chairman of Pakistani Community Association in Somaliland. “At first, I congratulate all Somalilanders wherever they are for the 32nd anniversary. It is 32 years of development, unity and pace, I see its progress and betterment, I congratulate it. I have been in Somaliland for fifthen years. I see more good things improving. There is a big difference between the day I came and today. So, I appreciate how the Government is making efforts for the development. We were preparing for in the same all the other community groups were preparing. We requested Hargeisa Local Government to assign us a place to decorate, to contribute something to the city we are resident is indispensable and they accepted us. As you see how the Hargeisa Radio Roundabout was before and how decorated it within only three days. That was something else, it was simply to show our brotherhood, integration and caring for the community we are connected. So, we share feeling with the community we love,” said Dr. Anmol Asghar.
Dr. Anmol Asghar answering a question SLNTV asked him about the Pakistani community in Somaliland, said, “There are business people and there are many technicians. According to Somaliland, there are a lot of things even simple but whose skill is missing or scarce. Of course, it is changing day after the other, and the people are working hard and learning. There are many things they can do without hiring foreign staff, but yet, there is a need. There are a variety of craftsmen as employees, there are teachers, and there are businessmen too.
Dr. Anmol answering a question SLNTV asked him about how the Pakistanis has changed or introduced into Somaliland, said, “When you look at the construction, when I came in 2008 and today, the interior decorations of houses has improved and the people have accustomed to different fast food they like. And in terms of expertise, there are many Pakistani lecturers at the different universities, and there are many doctors in the health sector. So that it depends on everybody and he fits the position and how he can improve. There is good collaboration going within the community. I hope we can bring more than that and can do further.”
In addition to that, Dr. Anmol Asghar who is a dentist by profession, owner of Murzala Dental Clinic in Borama and Dean of the Dentistry Faculty of Adal University, and who at the same time fluently speaks Somali language and encourages his fellow Pakistani members, provided key recommendations and also made some requests to the Government of Somaliland.
“Things are improving day after day; our stay here is getting comfortable day after day. We thank the Government for allowing us to represent here the love we have for the community and celebrate with them. This is a symbol to show the solidarity and to show the love for the community. There are some challenges as well I would like to request the Government through this channel to please consider about visa policy and the ease of making business in Somaliland. There are businessmen who want to come and invest. But the biggest challenge and the first question they ask us is that when they come here, they want to say longer, to continue business but are they going to get the nationality of Somaliland, and we cannot answer. We suggest the Minister of Finance to make us onboard, let us have meetings and see how together we can improve and bring investment. Because our message to the whole world not only to Pakistan is that Somaliland is safe. We are representing here that this country is welcoming foreigners for business, but from the Government side, we need their cooperation to give us clear policies how bring new investment for the land. Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior, we are requesting here, there are people who have been here for years like me for fifteen years, there are others may be longer stay than me and some others ten years. Everywhere around the world, a democratic government gives rights to foreigners, there is a policy for permanent residence, we do not get here. It is our right. Please consider the people who are married here, who are doing business and who have invested here. They are not running away from here, so they need permanent residence. Children who are born here they have a right of land to get the nationality. People who have married here also seem to have different rights. So that we are requesting relevant Ministries and the President, His Highness, Muse Behi Abdi, kindly consider our right. Because we are here with you in your happiness and your sadness. I remember the Waaheen Fire, it was a painful moment for us, and today when the community is happily celebrating, we are happily part of it and celebrating with them. We request you to make on board, also, Ethiopians, Kenyans, Ugandans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Turkey, there are huge other communities here. We need the Government Ministries to bring all of us together, let us sit together, talk together, how we can improve and how we can work for the success, to bring development to the country, let us work together.”
“I want to give a message to the world. I want to say to the whole world that Somaliland is safe. That is why we live here, because Somaliland is peaceful. Even I want to say to our Pakistani Government, Somaliland is safe, we want to organize this country, so Pakistani Government to think about it. We are safe here, we are independent here, we love Somaliland,” said Danyal Asghar, Owner of Murtaza Restaurant and Cafe in Borama.
“We say happy 18 May to all Somalilanders. Masha Allah, we made this for our community, a symbol between our two countries, we have love and respect for the Somalilanders. We as the Pakistani community and celebrate 18 May Independence Day for Somaliland. This is our second time taking part of Somaliland Independence Day officially, and this year we celebrate very fantastic way and this is our sample between our two communities. The Somaliland people are good people, they welcome us to their country and they are happy for us, grateful and respectful to our community. When we see their welcome, it makes us happy to be part of Somaliland and we are grateful to them,” said Shareef Muhammad Khan, Owner of Khan Garage in Hargeisa.
“This is my first time to take part on 18 May Celebration and I am very impressed to see that the people of Somaliland have such good friendship and good relationship with our people as Pakistanis, I love Pakistan as I love Somaliland, thank you,” said Jafar Shahii.
As a result of the reliable peace and stability, the open market economic system, the tourism potentials of both natural and historical gifts bestowed with as well as the visa openness of the country, there is gradual increase of the foreigners coming to Somaliland either tourists choosing Somaliland as their destination to visit and spend their holidays or the many more people who come to do business, investors, skilled labor and specialists hired from other countries for certain professions mainly by the private sector employers, and also refugees and asylum seekers. However, there are different foreign communities residing in Somaliland some of them organized as associations registered by the Ministry of Interior including business people, self-employed skilled people and contracted employees who are granted residence visas and work by the Immigration Department and work permits by the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs & Family of the Republic of Somaliland whilst the undocumented immigrants cannot be ignored. Among others, there are Ethiopian, Kenyan, Ugandan, Egyptian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Syrian, Indian, Bengalis, Taiwanese, Chinese and Turkish communities in Somaliland. I have not referred to any available records of them, but the Ethiopian and Yemenis could be the most in number while also Pakistanis are among those foreigners increasing, currently estimated to be close to a thousand community population.
It is indeed an honor and reputation for the Republic of Somaliland to be a destination of choice in the Horn of Africa for both business and pleasure travelers, investors and tourists and to be rated as friendly people. However, we are so grateful to all our friends and visitors who joined us for the celebration of 18 May 32nd Anniversary from the rebirth of Somaliland and in particular the Pakistani community for their praiseworthy participation and the friendship they have shown to Somalilanders on the momentous occasion of 18 May 2023.
Hassan Ahmed Yusuf
Phone: 063 4081527, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hargeisa, Republic of Somaliland
May 23rd 2023