LAHORE: London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday said he could mediate between Pakistan and India, as he spent a busy day in the provincial metropolis after arriving from India through Wagah border.
He led a delegation of British investors who called on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and expressed their interest in investment in CPEC projects.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said the CPEC had opened new avenues of foreign investment in Pakistan, adding the British investors should take full benefit of the golden opportunity by investing in the economic corridor projects.
He apprised the visiting delegation of various reforms introduced by the Punjab government, and said they would work jointly with the British investors in different sectors.
The CM, however, noted that the UK must apologise for the injustices committed during the colonial era.
Sadiq expressed the desire to enhance cooperation and investment with Lahore in different sectors. The economic future of Pakistan was very bright, he added.
Earlier, the London mayor held a meeting with the CM and discussed matters of mutual interest.
Separately, Sadiq Khan, during an interactive session, said Pakistan had a huge unlocked potential and its people were hardworking. “This potential is not fully exploited because the helping hand the hard working Pakistanis need is not available,” he added.
Sadiq said Pakistanis should develop a culture of tolerance and care to exploit their potential, adding that all successful cities had moved up through “this culture.”
Citing his example, Sadiq said people from all faiths voted for him as mayor and defeated the hate campaign based on religion launched by his opponent who was [former] brother-in-law of Imran Khan. He said the people of London rejected the hate campaign showing the maturity of successful culture of tolerance, care and love. He said Imran had opposed him but it was quite democratic.
“I’m here to let the South Asian economies know that ‘London is open’,” said Sadiq Khan who has been in the region these days on damage control after Brexit sent waves of negativity to the world regarding Britain’s future trade and commerce policies.
The London Mayor met key policy makers and businessmen in India to find avenues of economic cooperation and sought to do the same in Pakistan.
He said the purpose of his visit was to promote trade with three large cities each of Pakistan and India. He said even after Britain’s decision to leave the EU, London would remain an important trading and financial centre.
The mayor said London would welcome as many Pakistanis as possible. But when informed that many visa applications from Pakistan were refused recently, he retorted that many more were granted visa.
He clarified that as the London Mayor, he had no role in making immigration laws. However, he promised that he would use his influence to change strict immigration laws.
Sadiq said when the people of UK were asked to vote on remaining or leaving the EU, he was against Brexit. He said that opponents of the EU membership had contended that the exit would bring Britain closer to the Commonwealth countries. He said closer ties with the Commonwealth comprising countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and India would not be possible without relaxing immigration rules.
The anti-EU forces, he added, should now take decisions that move Britain closer to the Commonwealth countries.
“Some of my friends advised me not to visit India and Pakistan in one go but I have seen Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians living in harmony and wanted to see the sentiments on both sides of the border. I was delighted to find the people of both countries have goodwill for each other. The governments may have differences but people’s power would finally force them to change their attitude,” he noted and offered he could mediate between Pakistan and India for reconciliation.
He proudly informed the audience that London is the capital of global education and attracts largest number of tourists every year than any other city in the world. Arts and culture were embedded in London’s society, he remarked, adding that every sixth job in London went to the creators of art.