CFoP virtual annual reception highlights close Pak-UK relations

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Nation special report

LONDON: Conservative Friends of Pakistan hosted annual virtual reception in London on Monday attended and addressed by a number of British ministers and Parliamentarians. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was the chief guest and addressed the event via video link from Islamabad on Pak-UK relations, issues of mutual concern, regional situation and foremost the Kashmir issue.

While seeking help from UK Government, Conservative Party and international community, he said that India must be pressurised to resolve this core issue which is hanging over for the last seven decades. He said that it is very high time to exercise their influence to resolve this imbroglio and ask India to stop human rights violations in that part of Kashmir.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan is facing challenges at its eastern and western borders but we are sorting this issue at western border by negotiating with Afghan Government. “We are facilitating for meetings between US and Taliban and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah visited Pakistan last week and held talks. These steps are a light in tunnel”, he said.

The Foreign Minister said commencement of intra afghan dialogue is a significant and positive development for the regional peace. He said Pakistan has facilitated the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in Doha early this year.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Reiterating Pakistan’s stance and holding Indian leadership and armed forces responsible for ‘brutal’ human rights violations in J&K, he urged the world community especially the UK to exercise their influence to resolve this issue. “Genocide in Kashmir is greatest threat to the peace in the region and Pakistan has written several times to UN General Council and Human Rights Council to ensure an end to these violations”, he added.

He appealed to UK Government and ruling Conservative Party to act in this connection effectively as it enjoys support from Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora. He said India’s belligerence poses a serious threat to peace and security in the region. “The world community should pay attention towards plight in Indian occupied Kashmir”, he appealed.

LONDON: Pakistan High Commissioner Moazzam Ahmad Khan, Lord Tariq Ahmad, Lord Zameer Choudery, Lord Tom Tugendhat, Syed Qamar Raza, Amanda Milling MP, Baroness Nausheen Ahmed, Andrew Stephenson MP, Brandon Lewis MP, Ian Duncan Smith MP, Felicity Buchan MP, Nusrat Ghani MP, Paul Bristow MP, Saqib Bhatti MP, Mayor Andy Street Shawn Bailey and Jay Singh Sohal speaking at the annual virtual reception hosted by Conservative Friends of Pakistan on Monday which Ahmereen Raza is moderating the event. (Nation TV pictures).

Shah Mahmood said that on the 5th of August last year, New Delhi illegally and unilaterally attempted to alter the disputed status of the territory in clear violations of international laws. He said India has deployed additional troops in the area which is already the most militarized zone in the world. Kashmir leaders are incarcerated whilst extra judicial killings of innocent young Kashmiri are tactics used to break the will of the people fighting for their right to self-determination. These facts are well documented in reports of human rights organizations.

On the domestic front, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the things have started improving due to the structural reforms initiated by the present government regardless of the challenge posed by Covid-19. He said we have recorded current account plus for the first time in many years whilst other economic indicators are also showing improvement. Our domestic tax collection has increased by thirty percent.  The remittances for the first time crossed twenty billion dollars. The confidence of investors is improving as a result of our policies.

Regarding bilateral relations with the UK, the Foreign Minister said both the countries are in agreement to further build on the excellent relationship. He said we need to look at new areas of cooperation.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasised the role of Pakistani Diaspora in building relations between Pakistan and the UK and appreciated the positive developments in bilateral relations with UK. He highlighted the effects of Covid-19 on global economy and outlined the actions taken by Government of Pakistan to tackle the contagion specially its ‘smart lockdown’ policy. The Foreign Minister highlighted the effects of coronavirus on developing countries and Prime Minister’s call for ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’. He highlighted the contributions made by British Pakistanis and paid rich tributes to those who lost their lives in the fight against Covid-19.

While dilating upon the positive developments in Pakistan’s economy, the Foreign Minister attributed these developments to key strategic thrusts of Pakistan’s economic policy which include responsible economic governance, attracting foreign investments, improving export market access, leveraging technology and focusing on IT, and promoting tourism.

Conservative Friends of Pakistan (CFOP), led by Lord Zameer Choudrey CBE SI Pk, seeks to build a stronger, wider and deeper relationship between the Conservative Party, Pakistan and British Pakistani communities in the UK which hosts more than 1.5 million strong Pakistani diaspora.

Welcoming the participants, Lord Zameer Choudrey said Pak-UK relations are growing further in the larger interest of both the countries and their people. These people to people contacts are working as solid bridge connecting various fields particularly the political, commercial and social affairs. “We look forward to the enhancement of these trust worthy ties and the Conservative Party is very effective source to achieve the required aims.  “Covid-19 was and is still a challenge not only for Pakistan and Great Britain but rest of the world and we all unitedly can defeat this menace which is very dangerous for the human being”, he said.

Expressing his views, Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister for Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), termed the Pak-UK relations a good example of two close and frank countries. He detailed valued role of DFID in providing educational facilities and other social works. After BA, the Virgin Airlines is going to start its service for Pakistan whereas the UK Government is already extending help to Pakistan in various sections of life.

He referred a quotation from Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah that education for women is essential for a prosper society and without it no society can claim itself a civilised society. DFID has allocated over £15.8 million for education in Pakistan and out of that amount £7.4 million are for girls’ education. “Both countries enjoying mutual beneficial relations based on people to people contact”, he emphasised.

In his vote of thanks Syed Qamar Raza (Vice Chairman, CFoP) said that this virtual event was a source of valued information and enlightened all of us with new vistas in enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries.

“The role of Pakistani diaspora in building relations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom and strengthening the people-to-people contacts is pivotal and acknowledged by the leadership of both nations. The valued contribution by British Pakistanis is highlight appreciated by the UK leadership which is highly taken source of inspiration for the diaspora”, he said.

Syed Qamar Raza paid tribute to leadership of Lord Zameer Choudery and said that under his dynamic guidance the CFoP is working sincerely and religiously to boost Pak-UK relations and will continue to do so.

Pakistan High Commissioner Moazzam Ahmad Khan and a number of British Parliamentarians also spoke on Pak-UK relations expressed hope that these relations will grow further in days ahead. The British Parliamentarians lauded the contribution of Pakistani diaspora as very important and significant for the British society and suggested the members of diaspora to join Conservative Party in maximum number.

Those who spoke at the occasion were include Brandon Lewis MP (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland), Amanda Milling MP (Minister without Portfolio & Conservative Party Chairman), Lord Goldsmith (Minister for Pacific and the Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office), Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Andrew Stephenson MP (Minister of State at the Department for Transport), Tom Tugendhat MBE MP (Chair Foreign Affairs Committee), Andy Street CBE – (Mayor of West Midlands), Saqib Bhatti MBE MP, Nusrat Ghani MP, Felicity Buchan MP, Paul Bristow MP, Lord Tom Tugendhat, Baroness Nausheen Ahmed, Shawn Bailey (London Mayor candidate), Jay Singh Sohal, M. Sarwar, Aliya Khan, Michelle Kazi and Has Ahmed. Ahmereen Raza moderated the event which lasted over one hour and twenty minutes.