Co - Chairman:
Secretary General and Spokesperson:
The Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum again celebrate jointly the independence days of the respective countries, this time in the House of Lords.
The Pakistan India & UK Friendship Forum once again celebrated jointly, the Independence Days of the respective countries 62 years after they gained their independence from Britain in 1947. This event is now held annually as a mark of respect to both sovereign nations and works to promote cordial relationships between the two communities now living side by side in countries such as UK, USA, Canada and Australia.
The event hosted by Lord Karan Bilimoria was attended by over 120 top dignitaries and Parliamentarians of all political persuasions. The Guest of Honour was Dr Lord Khalid Hameed. Attendees included Mr Mohammad Sarwar MP, Hon. Bernard Jenkin MP, Lord Mohammad Sheikh, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Baroness Sandeep Verma, Mr. Barry Gardiner MP, The Rt. Hon. Gareth Thomas MP, Minster of State for International Development and Mr. Tarique Ghaffur, Former Assistant Commissioner of Police.
A minute’s silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Great Britain and India.
In his opening speech, Lord Karan Bilimoria welcomed the guests and shared his experiences of time spent in Pakistan as apart of an Indian delegation. He recalled how the Pakistani hosts were in tears at the time of their departure. He used France & Germany as a powerful example of an improbable friendship. As a result there was no reason why friendship between India and Pakistan could not also prosper. He emphasised that no individual, at the time of the 2nd World War could believe that a few years later the two would become allies.
Mr Mohammed Sarwar MP praised the work of the forum and also pledged his full support and had come especially from Glasgow to show this. He reiterated that the biggest enemy facing these two nations was poverty. He expressed the importance of working together through an organisation like the friendship forum to make a difference to the lives of our people.
General Secretary, Dr Ashraf Chohan was upbeat about the friendship and requested the Parliamentarians to join in a forthcoming trip to India & Pakistan to strengthen the friendship further. He said that this forum was meeting at the right time, particularly as there is considerable tension between India & Pakistan.
Lord Nazir Ahmed gave a very humorous speech which was well received. He was encouraged to see how the relationship between the two communities in Britain continues to improve. He particularly thanked Dr Rami Ranger & Mr Arif Chaudhary for initiating this Forum to promote the cause of friendship.
Lord Mohammad Sheikh also endorsed the work the Friendship Forum was doing and promised to do whatever he could to improve relations between the two communities living side by side in Britain. He importantly pointed out dialogue similarities as a common denominator between the religions. He used Punjabi as an example as the Asian language which is spoken by not only Sikhs but also Muslims, Hindu and Christians.
A loyal toast was given to Her Majesty the Queen (by Prof. Satvinder Singh Juss), the President of Pakistan (by Mr S.Q Raza), and to the President of India (by Mr Ashok Sharma).
The founder Mr Arif Chaudhary, who had come especially from Pakistan to attend the event, said our people on either side of the border have similar concerns and issues and they essentially need ‘bread not bombs’.
The Chairman of the forum, Dr Rami Ranger MBE said that in this globalised world no one should now pitch India and Pakistan as two rival nations. If they do, then they would only create rivalry between the people of Indian & Pakistani origin in all countries where they now live side by side. As a result social cohesion in these countries could be damaged irreparably.
Baroness Verma praised the work done by the forum but expressed that she could not understand why we have so much in common yet we have remained separate for so long. She urged that we as a joint community regardless of race and colour should stop giving importance to the small minority which divides us.
A special award was presented to PJ Mir by Hon Bernard Jenkin MP, for his for outstanding services in the field of journalism and objective reporting of news on TV channels. In his absence the award was collected by Mr Muzaffar Chaudhary.
Hon. Bernard Jenkin MP said that he was encouraged to see how the scourge of terrorism is actually bringing India & Pakistan together for a common cause to defeat terrorists. He commended the work being done by the Forum.
The Guest of Honour, Dr Lord Khalid Hameed in his key note speech stressed the need for interfaith dialogue to understand Islam better. He condemned those who force anyone to follow their faith. He said that the holy Koran says clearly that everyone has the right worship as they deem fit. He criticised the media by giving a distorted view of Islam. He was appalled by those who frequently use words such as “fundamentalist Muslim” and “Islamic terrorist”; and further promote Islamaphobia in society and at the same time undermine peaceful and law-abiding Muslims.
The co-chairman Mr Ahmad Shahzad gave a vote of thanks to all the guests who took time out of their busy lives and came to support the Dinner. He thanked Lord Bilimoria for hosting the event and Lord Hameed for accepting to be the guest of honour as well as expressing his thanks to the other dignitaries and Parliamentarians for attending and lending their support. He also thanked the banqueting staff at the House of Lords for an excellent dinner which was enjoyed by everyone.
Please click on the link to watch. http://www.youtube.com/tv786#p/u/4/AdjXYnU04gQ
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