MANCHESTER : The Pakistan High Commission, London and the Consulate General of Pakistan in Manchester organized the fourth Councillors Convention in Manchester.
The theme of the event was “Celebrating Diversity and Multiculturalism in Northwest UK”. Around 100 MPs, MEPs, British Pakistani Councillors, Mayors and community representatives from across Northwest UK participated in the event.
H.E. Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK presided over the Convention.
The Consul General of Pakistan in Manchester, Mr. Aamar Aftab Qureshi welcomed the guests and outlined the basic aims and objectives of this important forum.
The High Commissioner in his inaugural address highlighted the importance of constant interaction between elected representatives from the British Pakistani community for social cohesion and better future. He emphasized the importance of becoming good and responsible British citizens as it would add to the image and prestige of their motherland Pakistan. He highly appreciated the remarkable achievements made by the community especially in politics and business.
The High Commissioner underlined that engagement with the grassroots tier of Westminster democracy is of vital importance as there are almost 350 Councillors of Pakistani origin in UK. He stated that two of the most powerful political positions, that of the Home Secretary and Mayor of London are being currently held by British politicians of Pakistani heritage. He requested the participants to take this as a motivating factor and keep contributing positively to the social fabric of the UK.
The High Commissioner further said that we have gathered to celebrate the success and contribution that our diaspora has made to the progress and development of the UK as well as Pakistan. However, he said, over 1.2 million strong Pakistani diaspora can still achieve much more through focus on education and enhanced political and socio-economic participation in the UK.
Giving an overview of Pakistan, the High Commissioner said Pakistan’s economy is doing well. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer which will make Pakistan a regional economic hub, he added. He shared with the audience that Pakistan has been ranked as one of the best tourist destinations this year and it has huge investment opportunities on offer in tourism industry.
The day-long Convention was divided into an inaugural session followed by two main sessions featuring panelists from MPs, Councillors, Mayors and experts from various fields.
Speaking on the occasion, Members of Parliament Mr. Tony Lloyd, Mrs. Rebecca Longbailey, Mr. Afzal Khan, Mr. Jim Mcmohan, Mr. Faisal Rashid and Mrs. Yasmin Qureshi in addition to Members of European Parliament Mr. Sajjad Karim and Mr. Wajid Khan highlighted the importance of multiculturalism and diversity in the North West UK. They shared their experiences in a multicultural environment and how best this can be used as an opportunity to benefit the entire society. The speakers spoke about understanding and accepting each other as well as effective integration and mainstreaming within the wider British community.
The two main panel discussions were held on the following themes relevant to the British Pakistani community, namely: “A Dialogue with the Next Generation of Youth and Women” and “British Pakistani Community – A Catalyst for Socio-Economic Development”.
While emphasizing the need to reach out and connect with youth and empower women, panelists emphasized on the enhanced focus on education for children, higher education for youth, active role of women in various walks of life, and respect for plurality and diversity while retaining one’s own culture, identity and heritage.
The speakers encouraged the women to be productive citizens and enroll themselves for higher education. They appreciated the importance of devising strategies to further the contribution of the British Pakistanis in the social and economic life of Britain.
The panelists also discussed how focusing on business development and business support at the grassroots level in addition to bigger projects like CPEC can play a vital role in elevating Pakistan’s economic position. The opportunities and outward outlook for post Brexit UK was discussed at large as it presented an opportunity for enhanced collaboration in economic field between the UK and Pakistan.
The High Commissioner in his concluding remarks thanked the audience for their overwhelming response and appreciated all the important points raised by the panelists.
The event provided a platform to the elected representatives of the British Pakistanis to exchange views and share ideas and best practices on issues of mutual interest. The event also offered an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the British Pakistanis in various walks of life.
The purpose of the Convention was to carry forward the dialogue initiated in the previous Councillors Conventions and reach out to the community through the elected leadership of the British Pakistanis.
The event was held at the British Muslim Heritage Centre.