H.E. Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK held an interactive session with the Pakistani community on Saturday, 28 April 2018, during his 2-day visit to Birmingham. The event was attended by a large number of community members from Cardiff, Wales, Bristol, Nottingham and Derby. Mr. Khalid Mahmood, Member Parliament was also present on the occasion.
Welcoming the High Commissioner and the community, Consul General Ahmar Ismail highlighted the key achievements made by the Consulate, including the relocation of the Consulate to the new building at a convenient location and the upgradation and automation of the entire Consular Services. In this regard he mentioned a dedicated and up to date website, online appointment system, providing consular services at the doorstep of the community through community outreach efforts and weekend surgeries in major cities.
In his remarks, the High Commissioner thanked the community for their attendance and said that it was one of his main priorities to set high standards of public service delivery for the convenience of our community and he was glad that the initiatives were received well by the community. He appreciated the important contributions that Pakistani-British community has made in the progress and prosperity of the United Kingdom. The High Commissioner highlighted that Pakistani diaspora was serving as a strong bridge between Pakistan and the UK. However, there was a need for increased participation in the UK politics commensurate with the population of our community, he added.
The High Commissioner briefed the audience about the efforts made by the Government at the highest level to highlight the need of resolving the Kashmir dispute through peaceful means. He urged the community members to approach their local MPs and Councillors for highlighting the issue of grave violations of human rights committed by the security forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) at appropriate political fora.
On the economic front, the High Commissioner emphasized the need for supplementing the existing excellent political relations between Pakistan and the UK by expanding the bilateral economic and trade relations. In this regard, he mentioned that the UK Export Finance has recently doubled its export credit for Pakistan which would help the businessmen of the two countries. He informed the audience that last year, the Bust of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was unveiled at the historic British Museum. The Bust was permanently installed at the Quaid’s alma mater, the prestigious Lincoln’s Inn on 29 November 2017. He said that in the next phase, it had been planned to install a Bust of Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal – National poet of Pakistan – at Stratford upon Avon which is Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
The High Commissioner urged the community members especially the women and youth to assume greater responsibilities in the British society in their respective professions and businesses. In this regard, the High Commission shall be sending five young individuals to Pakistan every year for them to explore our country. This initiative would help bring a positive change in the general perception held about Pakistan in the UK.
In his comments, Mr. Khalid Mahmood thanked the High Commissioner for making it to Birmingham for the interactive session. He underlined the fact that it was a long felt desire of the community members to relocate the Consulate building from the old Bismillah Building to the new location. On the issue of Kashmir, he stated that as a member of British Parliament and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, he focused on the massive violations of human rights & civil liberties in IOK. He added that the British society gave great importance to human rights issues. The MP underscored that the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in the UK may synergize their efforts to play a vital role in highlighting the Kashmir issue in the Parliament through their respective members of Parliament. At the end, he appreciated the key initiatives of the Consulate in respect of Public diplomacy for projection of Cultural values of Pakistan.
At the end, the High Commissioner responded to the comments/proposals made by the community members.