December 07 , 2017
Sadiq Khan says he can help secure Pak-India peace
LAHORE: London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday said he could mediate between Pakistan and India, as he spent a busy day in the provincial metropolis after arriving from India through the Wagah border.
He led a delegation of British investors, who called on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and expressed their interest in investment in CPEC projects. Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said CPEC had opened new avenues of foreign investment in Pakistan, adding the British investors should take full benefit of the golden opportunity by investing in economic corridor projects.
He apprised the visiting delegation of various reforms introduced by the Punjab government, and said they would work jointly with the British investors in different sectors. Sadiq expressed the desire to enhance cooperation and investment with Lahore in different sectors.
The economic future of Pakistan was very bright, he added. Earlier, the London mayor held a meeting with the CM and discussed matters of mutual interest. Separately, Sadiq Khan, during an interactive session, said Pakistan had a huge unlocked potential and its people were hardworking.
“This potential is not fully exploited because the helping hand the hardworking Pakistanis need is not available,” he added. Sadiq Khan said Pakistanis should develop a culture of tolerance and care to exploit their potential, adding that all successful cities had moved up through “this culture.”
Citing his example, Sadiq said people from all faiths voted for him as mayor and defeated the hate campaign based on religion launched by his opponent who was [former] brother-in-law of Imran Khan. He said the people of London rejected the hate campaign showing the maturity of successful culture of tolerance, care and love. He said Imran had opposed him but it was quite democratic.
“I’m here to let the South Asian economies know that ‘London is open’,” said Sadiq Khan who has been in the region these days on damage control after Brexit sent waves of negativity to the world regarding Britain’s future trade and commerce policies. The London mayor met key policymakers and businessmen in India to find avenues of economic cooperation and sought to do the same in Pakistan.
He said the purpose of his visit was to promote trade with three large cities each of Pakistan and India. He said even after Britain’s decision to leave the EU, London would remain an important trading and financial centre.
The mayor said London would welcome as many Pakistanis as possible. But when informed that many visa applications from Pakistan were refused recently, he retorted that many more were granted visa.
He clarified that as the London mayor, he had no role in making the immigration laws. However, he promised that he would use his influence to change the strict immigration laws. Sadiq said when the people of UK were asked to vote on remaining or leaving the EU, he was against Brexit. He said that opponents of the EU membership had contended that the exit would bring Britain closer to the Commonwealth countries. He said closer ties with the Commonwealth comprising countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India would not be possible without relaxing the immigration rules.
The anti-EU forces, he added, should now take decisions that move Britain closer to the Commonwealth countries. “Some of my friends advised me not to visit India and Pakistan in one go but I have seen Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians living in harmony and wanted to see the sentiments on both sides of the border. I was delighted to find the people of both countries have goodwill for each other. The governments may have differences but people's power would finally force them to change their attitude,” he noted and offered he could mediate between Pakistan and India for reconciliation.
He proudly informed the audience that London is the capital of global education and attracts the largest number of tourists every year than any other city in the world. Arts and culture were embedded in London’s society, he remarked, adding that every sixth job in London went to the creators of art.
He said Pakistan was an emerging market not only for the UK but for the entire world. When asked to name one thing that he likes the best in Pakistan, his reply was ‘Pakistanis’ who he found very loving and caring.
Sadiq said he was proud that his roots were from Pakistan. He said his parents migrated to the UK some 60 years ago. At that time, he explained, they faced racial discrimination as blacks or coloured people were not allowed in many clubs and places.
He said the discrimination reduced appreciably when he was studying. Now, he noted, his children enjoy equal status in society, expressing the hope that things would also improve gradually in Pakistan.
Another Pakistan-origin celebrity present on the occasion was Pak-American billionaire businessman Shahid Khan, who hails from Lahore and studied at the Lahore Cathedral School and FC College, Lahore, before immigrating to the United States 50 years back.
To a question as to why has he didn't have massive investment in Pakistan, Shahid said there were a lot of opportunities and potential for investment in Pakistan, and he was currently busy learning more about the Pakistani market before taking a step in this direction.
The mayor asked Shahid how he managed to own an NFL Team in the US being a Muslim of Pakistani origin, a feat the current US president tried and failed at. “It was a 10-year journey”, he replied.
“I met with the other owners and figured out their concerns and found ways of addressing those concerns,” said Shahid who also talked about how such an approach can resolve apparently the most difficult challenges.