LONDON: Pakistan High Commissioner, Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, made a strong pitch for attracting foreign investments to Pakistan at a reception hosted byLiberal Democrats Friends of Pakistanat the annual Party Conference in Bournemouth on 14 September. Room was packed to capacity by a large number of Lib-Dem Lords, MPs, MEPs, Party Members, Parliamentary Candidates as well as members of the civil society and human rights activists.
Giving an overview of the economic opportunities in Pakistan, the High Commissioner said the country is rapidly gaining investors’ attention as the security challenge has been successfully overcome and infrastructure has significantly improved. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan is leading the economic reforms to facilitate investors and to ensure ease of doing business. He shared with the audience a list of projects ready for investment. He particularly invited UK’s Fintech and IT companies to set up their branches in Pakistan which is the most competitive business destination in the region in terms of price and availability of human resource.
He said that the strong goodwill that exists at all levels between the two countries could be translated in terms of economic dividends.
Referring the importance of 1.5 million Pakistani Diaspora providing a solid foundation to bilateral relations, Zakaria expressed confidence that the Diaspora will be instrumental in Pakistan’s drive to promote bilateral relations, investment, trade and tourism with the United Kingdom.
Mr Zakaria availed this opportunity to highlight the humanitarian crisis resulting from continuous siege of millions of defenseless Kashmiris by the Indian forces which has created food and medicine shortages in the region causing unspeakable sufferings and deaths. He said human rights of Kashmiri people were being violated for decades. These are crimes against humanity well documented by reputable international organisations like UNOHCHR, HRW, Amnesty International, International People’s Tribunal and others, the High Commissioner underscored.
He invited attention of the audience towards mass graves in IoK and enforced disappearance and fake encounters related to it, deliberate mass blinding of youth with pellet guns, and rape of Kashmiri women as a tool to deter indigenous self-determination movement. He hoped that the UK would play its due role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. He emphasized delivery of justice to the Kashmiri victims of Indian atrocities and holding the perpetrators accountable.
A number of Lords, MP’s and MEPs spoke on the occasion. They reaffirmed their Party’s commitment to promoting mutually beneficial relations between Pakistan and the UK. They acknowledged the huge economic potential of Pakistan that British businesses could benefit from and bring two countries further closer. All of them expressed deep concern on the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and urged India to restore the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people immediately. The Parliamentarians also emphasized on peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute so that Pakistan and India could focus on poverty alleviation and human development.
Earlier, during the first day of the Lib Dem Conference, the High Commissioner met former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable MP and several Lords, MEPs, MPs, Party Members and Parliamentary Candidates. He held useful discussions with them on a wide range of areas pertaining to bilateral economic cooperation, trade & investment promotion, and Kashmir crisis.
In an expression of solidarity and out of humanitarian concern, the Lib Dem Muslims Forum has set up an exclusive stall under the title of “LibDem Friends of Kashmir” to highlight Indian atrocities. They urged UK government to work multilaterally within the EU, the Commonwealth, and United Nations to ask Government of India to lift the siege, end media and communications blackouts and release those arrested without warrants. They called for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to enter occupied Jammu and Kashmir and report on the state of affairs since 5th August 2019. The stall was visited by Party Conference delegates, who were there in thousands.
At the Reception, the High Commission put on display a number of banners and publicity material promoting art & culture, tourism and trade/investment opportunities in Pakistan. A special section was dedicated to the photographs depicting the human rights abuses in Kashmir which was keenly visited by the delegates of the Conference.
The High Commissioner thanked LibDem Friends of Pakistan for organizing the Reception and affording him an opportunity to apprise the delegates of the economic opportunities on offer in Pakistan. Zuffar Haq MBE, LibDem’s parliamentary candidate moderated the Reception.