Pakistan community express joy at National Award winner Dr. Riaz Khawaja
In keeping with the age old tradition, President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain announced various civil and military awards on the eve of 14th August – the Independence Day of Pakistan.
For the overseas Pakistanis living and working in Saudi Arabia this news was received with bit of surprise and joy as one of their community leaders, Dr. Riaz Jawed Khawaja, was one of the recipients of one such award.
Khawaja was awarded with Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) for his services for the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia and in particular for the Pakistani community in Riyadh.
Sitara-e-Imtiaz is the third highest honor and civilian award given by the State of Pakistan. It recognizes individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of Pakistan, world peace, cultural or other significant public endeavors.
And, this is probably the first time that an overseas Pakistani in Saudi Arabia has been bestowed with this honor.
Dr. Khawaja is a well-known personality among the Pakistani community in Riyadh.
As a young man Dr. Khawaja arrived in the Kingdom way back in 1971. He served for 6 years with the King Khalid Royal Medical Team.
For 15 years, he remained associated with the Royal Conference Palace as a Consultant Medical Affairs.
Later, he worked for 10 years with the Riyadh Central Hospital. He was also a licensed family p ractitioner for 30 years until recently.
Dr. Khawaja is well-known in the community for his social services. He remains the founder and lifetime chairman of Pakistan Cultural Group (PCG) which he founded in 1984.
He also has to his credit of being the founder and lifetime chairman of Pakistan Doctor’s Group which he founded in 1987.
He has been honored several times by various social and literary organizations of the Pakistani community in Riyadh.
In 2007, the Pakistan Writers Club honored him as the personality of the year. Dr. Khawaja has taken active part toward funds and relief collections for the victims of earthquake and floods in Pakistan.
He has helped establish a free clinic at the Embassy of Pakistan for the low income Pakistani residents in Riyadh who cannot afford medical treatment.
He engages in extending all kinds of help and assistance to needy Pakistani.
D. Khawaja was beaming with joy and satisfaction with this honor when Saudi Gazette met with him at his home.
He thanked former ambassadors of Pakistan Ali Sherzai and Muhammad Naeem Khan for appreciating his services.
He also thanked the Pakistani community members for their support to him.
Muhammad Asghar Qureshi expressed his happiness at this news and mentioned that government of Pakistan should honor at least one overseas Pakistani every year.
Shamshad Siddiqui said that Dr. Khawaja was an iconic personality in Riyadh and that this award to him was in fact an honor for all Pakistanis in Riyadh.
Jaleel Hasan, Khalid Rana, Waseem Sajid, Younus Abu Ghalib, Dr. Asad Roomi, Rana Khalid Akram, Rana Khadim Hussain, Dr. Mahmud Bajwa, Rashid Butt, Saeed Sheikh praised Dr. Khawaja and said that this was a well-deserved honor.
Dr. Mansour and his wife Dr. Erum, Dr. Asif Qureshi, Syed Khawaja Nehal Uddin and Dr. Wardah Qureshi spoke highly of Dr. Khawaja and mentioned that this award though has come late but was a welcome omen for the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia.