Category: Pakistan

Memorial for the Pakistan Flood Victims



Lord Sheikh hosted a meeting and dinner in the House of Lords for the United International Community UK which was a memorial tribute for the Pakistan Flood Victims. The meeting was very well attended and there were speeches by a number of eminent persons.


Lord Sheikh in his speech stated that there had been deaths and illnesses suffered by people, considerable damage to the infrastructures, people’s homes, farms, bridges, schools, hospitals and roads, and parts of the land are still submerged.


It is important that not only aid and help is provided for humanitarian purposes, but assistance is also provided for the reconstruction of the regions that have been affected. Help needs to be given on an ongoing basis for some time to come.


It is also imperative that we ensure that the aid does reach the right people and Lord & Lady Sheikh have given resources to three programmes where they were assured that this will be done.


Later in the day there was a dinner in the Attlee Room of the House of Lords and Lord Sheikh was asked to present an award to Rabia Zia who has raised nearly a million pounds for the relief work. Everyone did appreciate her considerable efforts and the work she has done and continues to undertake for humanitarian purposes.

Benazir Bhutto Remembrance Meeting Speech

Mrs Benazir Bhutto was tragically assassinated on 27th December 2007 which is a date I remember very well.  I was in fact in Amritsar at that time and my wife & I wanted to cross the border to go to Lahore on 28th December. After the assassination the Waga border was closed and we were not able to enter Pakistan.


When Mrs Bhutto was shot she was departing from a PPP rally in Rawalpindi. The rally took place two weeks before the scheduled General Election of 2008.  


Mrs Bhutto believed strongly in Democracy and in fact after an earlier bomb attack in October 2007 she said:


“We are prepared to risk our lives.

The attack was on what I represent. The attack was on democracy and very unity and integrity of Pakistan”.


Democracy is something she believed in and she paid the ultimate price and was martyred for her beliefs. I think this is something we must all appreciate and it is very appropriate that a memorial is held to remember her martyrdom.


I believe that you can kill a person but the idea will always live on.


Mahatma Gandhi believed in non violence and he was assassinated but the idea of non violence still lives on. This has been praised and practised by a number of people including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.


Martin Luther King had a dream in 1960’s and he was assassinated, his dream came true when Barack Obama was elected President of America.


I personally strongly believe in democracy and the rule of law. Recently in the House of Lords I tabled and led a debate on the subject of Commonwealth and Democracy. There are now 54 members of Commonwealth and all members of the Commonwealth have agreed to practise democracy and work together to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. Unfortunately Pakistan’s membership to the Commonwealth had been suspended but I am very pleased that following the establishment of democracy this has been reinstated.


In addition to democracy prevailing in Pakistan there are two points which are very important and need to be addressed.


The first one is building of capacity and institutions. It is extremely important that Pakistanis work together to strengthen institutions in order to ensure that there is peace and rule of law in that country.


The second point is dealing with the problem relating to terrorism. Sometimes it is easy for people to blame Pakistan but it must be remembered that Pakistan has itself been subjected to terrorism and intensive fighting as well as suicide bombings in various parts of the country.


The militants were defeated in SWAT and Pakistan has paid a very high price. There were deaths, injuries, destruction of property and infrastructure and importantly a considerable number of people have been displaced. To bring normality to that part of the world is a considerable effort; Pakistan does need help in this regard.


There is also fighting going on in Waziristan and 20 per cent of Pakistan’s forces are now fighting on its Western border with Afghanistan. Poverty and depravation are being exploited by the terrorists to lure young impressionable minds and recruit them as foot soldiers and suicide bombers.


We have discussed terrorism in Pakistan in the House of Lords and the United Kingdom is standing by and assisting Pakistan in the fight to combat extremists and terrorists. The United Kingdom has agreed to provide financial support of about £9.5 million pounds this year.


We need to do our utmost to combat terrorism in Pakistan by increasing funding as well as offering our expertise in various fields including intelligence. Pakistan will not only need help to combat terrorism but also in the building of the country’s infrastructure and winning the hearts and minds of the people.


Pakistan is an Islamic state and has suffered badly because of suicide bombings. The people who have committed these acts call themselves Muslims. In regard to suicide bombing Islam forbids the committal of suicide. In the Holy Quran it is written:


“whoever kills a human being then it is as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a human life it is as though he had saved all mankind”


I conclude by saying that the concept of Democracy which Mrs Bhutto believed in must be continued and strengthened and we need to look into and address the various points which I have raised today.

Benazir Bhutto Remembrance Meeting

Lord Sheikh was one of the speakers at a meeting organised in the Houses of Parliament to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Benazir Bhutto (former Prime Minister of Pakistan).

In his speech Lord Sheikh emphasised the importance of the maintenance of democracy and the strengthening of institutions and capacity. Furthermore it is essential that measures are taken to combat extremism and terrorism. Lord Sheikh also highlighted the need for the United Kingdom to offer our expertise and financial assistance to Pakistan for the achievement of these objectives. He added that we need to win the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people as well as build the country’s infrastructure if we want democracy to prevail in the region.

Click here to view a transcript of Lord Sheikh’s speech.

Joint Meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the House of Lords

Lord Sheikh, in conjunction with CMF Youth, hosted and chaired a meeting in the House of Lords for the Associate Parliamentary Group for Afghanistan and the British Council Associate Parliamentary Group. The discussion focused on education and global citizenship in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other members of the panel included Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP (Chair of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Afghanistan), Sue Beaumont (British Council Director Pakistan), Sital Dhillon (British Council Director Afghanistan) and Paul Rowen MP.