Guest contribution-A tribute to British democracy

May 11, 2010

parliamentThe following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Britain.

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

It is, no doubt, a tribute to British democracy that all sections of its society are represented in parliament. For us it is also heartening to note that out of nine Muslim members elected in the May 6 election, seven are of Pakistani origin (five belonging to Labour and two from the Conservatives). For the first time in British history two women of Pakistani origin have made it to parliament. Compared to previous elections, this time three more Pakistani MPs will be sitting in the House of Commons.

Britain and Pakistan are bound by a long shared history, which at times becomes nostalgic amongst the senior citizens who in their youth had some kind of interaction with our part of the world. But the migration of Pakistanis and Kashmiris to Britain during the past six decades has certainly created a human bridge between the two countries. One can see a growing interaction in the cultural, economic and political arenas, which makes Pakistan and the UK favourite destinations for the people of the two countries, especially those who have their origins in Pakistan and Kashmir.  For first-time visitors from Pakistan, London hardly represents an alien city given the fact that almost a million South Asians, including 50 percent Pakistanis, live in this city and immediately connect to their fellow Pakistanis through common language, food and clothes.

In such an environment, it is a matter of great satisfaction that British society has afforded the opportunity to the people of Pakistani and Kashmiri origin to be represented by their own people. This also shows the admirable tolerance shown by the British people and the government towards minorities and serves as a lesson to freedom-loving people throughout the world that in a democratic society, a fair representation of different interest groups is the best guarantee for stability and progress of any society.

It is incumbent upon the Pakistani diaspora to value the British democratic system and take measures to address the problems faced by the community. The election of Pakistani and Kashmiri members to the House of Commons and in councils across Britain is reflective of their keen interest in British political life. As a fellow Pakistani I am proud of their success. It is a recognition of their hard work and their acceptability in British society. I am confident that with perseverance they would prove to be an asset to British political life.

But, I have a word of caution: We in Pakistan are passing through a sensitive phase of defeating extremists and terrorists. Please help us in neutralizing the forces of obscurantism and pay attention to your youth to stop them from falling prey to extremist propaganda. We all know that British youth of Pakistani origin are getting radicalized within the United Kingdom. Unlike some rhetorical claims that three-fourth of terror plots on Britain originate from Pakistan, it is Britain itself where we have to find the causes of radicalization and their remedies. Pakistan is not a place for extremist baptism; we have made them run and we will not rest till they are neutralized.

It has become increasingly obvious during my interaction with British colleagues and scholars that something has to be done to deradicalize the British youth. What is it that makes a youth radical despite having opportunities for basic education and health facilities? Certainly, the newly elected members of the House of Commons with roots in Pakistan will have the occasion to raise these issues in the parliament and with the new government.

But we also need assistance from our friends to rejuvenate Pakistan’s economy to provide more jobs in the country and wean the youth away from extremist tendencies. I am confident that the Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora would play their valuable role in this regard. The newly elected members of the House of Commons can steer the process of investment in Pakistan and also lobby their EU counterparts for greater market access for Pakistan.

*The writer is Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK


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It is interesting to see the writer include Kashmiris when he is talking about Pakistanis in UK. I know that the Kashmiris from the Azad Kashmir side cannot go to vacation in Sri Nagar. They only go with their guns and face masks and honeymoon with Indian security forces.

Other than the reference to Kashmiris, the article is well intended. Hopefully the UK will help Pakistani civil establishment stronger in some way.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“Unlike some rhetorical claims that three-fourth of terror plots on Britain originate from Pakistan, it is Britain itself where we have to find the causes of radicalization and their remedies.”

What does the author mean by this statement?
Is it to say, we are clean, you take care of your country.

Posted by Pravinraje | Report as abusive

@ “Unlike some rhetorical claims that three-fourth of terror plots on Britain originate from Pakistan, it is Britain itself where we have to find the causes of radicalization and their remedies”

Yes Mr. Hasan, the problem is always everywhere else but Pakistan. The “rhetorical claims” have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that almost every Jihadi company in the world has a head office or a branch office in Pakistan & that almost every know terrorist from Richard Reed to Jose Padilla to the London bombers to Ajmal Kasab to Shahzad have recieved terror training in your pure land. You’re right!

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

The Author,

Clearly has to do his job to paint Pakistan in a favorable political spotlight, due to his vocation.

The youths becoming radicalized is not the fault of British Citizens or the government. It is the incapability or unwillingness of the community itself to face radicalism in the places of worship. Community leaders need to stand up and tell these guys “hey you are preaching garbage”…or say something like, “your hate has not place here”.

As a second generation Indian born with Indian parents. I can tell you, in my young days, I faced all kinds of racism from non-coloured people, but my parents never let me scapegoat my short comings or insecurities and blame them on other people. My parents took responsibility and shaped my opinions that would mesh with a democratic, integrated and secular society, as my parents were grateful for the life they got, worked hard and never blamed anyone for their problems or hardships.

We need more Pakistani parents do the same and guide their children and be careful what sort of language they utter in front of their children. All of these nurturing considerations and family matters shape the political landscape of immigrant communities.

It is not the job of British Gov’t or UK citizens to de-radicalize their youth, it is upto the communities to take charge of proper parenting and purging their communities of political and religious venom.

The real radicalization war is in the places of worship and in the minds of the mmigrant community to act responsibly and pro-actively make choices that reflect positively on the children, community and remove breeding grounds of venomous radicals.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Just to add to my previous comment,

To date, it seems that the immigrant community either does not care that there radicalized children, quietly empathizes with it, or does not really care, or stricken with fear or any combination of the above.

It does not matter, what does matter is that nations that host immigrant communities will eventually get fed up and speak out and verbalize their anger and displeasure. It is in the interest to make sure that all internal community issues like radicalization of youth is handled with some hard leadership and ensure that the youth turn into productive, friendly adults that are patriotic to their respective nation.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

The author writes….”But we also need assistance from our friends to rejuvenate Pakistan’s economy to provide more jobs in the country and wean the youth away from extremist tendencies”..

There are 2 problems with this statement…one is UK is already spending on aid to pakistan..second..this is using terrorism to milk aid money..there are immigrants from other poor countries living in UK who are living peacefully and don’t hate Britain as much as paks do…why shouldn’t UK be spending more money on these countries rather than on pakistan?

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

If Brits of Pakistani descent thought of themselves as Brits first instead of Pakistanis who carry the giant chip on their shoulder that comes from the homeland, the UK and the Pakistani community would be a lot better off.

But they don’t. Unlike in Canada and the US, Pakistanis in the UK, whether first, second or third generation, seem to go out of their way to be Pakistani first and British second. They have never learned how to be proud Brits while being proud of their heritage.

And that means they carry the narrative and grievances of their homeland to the UK. If Kashmir is a problem at home, then it’s a problem in the UK. If Islam is under attack at home, it’s under attack in the UK. On and on it goes. They scarcely think of the British national interest. It’s only about Pakistan and the Pakistani narrative.

If you look at it from that angle, is it really surprising at all that British Pakistanis are getting radicalized at such an alarming rate? They are after all, not remarkably different from Pakistanis themselves. And British Pakistanis certainly don’t see themselves differently. The rate of radicalization is alarming by Western standards. By Pakistani standards, it’s probably the norm.

When communities are better integrated though, the results are markedly different. While there are still issues with terrorism, just look at the Pakistani communities in the US and Canada. It’s no accident that they haven’t been as severely radicalized. I am sure being double the distance from the motherland has helped to some extent.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive


Did you find it to be true that Paks were Pakistani’s first and second UK citizens when you lived in the UK?

One thing you fail to consider, the immigration policies in Canada and U.S. favor more educated Pakistani’s, rather than uneducated ones and turning a buck in the U.S. or Canada is hard work and only the secular minded ones survive financially, as you do not have ethnic ghettos of the kind you have in the UK. UK either needs to reform its immigration or close it altogether and let in only productive tax paying immigrants.

In short, don’t import people that won’t find a job or integrate, or have any capital to bring and therefore only to have them, or their progeny seek the refuge of inwards extremism towards their host country.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

I would very much like to know about the views of the uk citizens with migration background or grievences if any. Do they feel loyal to the adopted country of their parents or because of contiued affiliations with the country of their ancestors?
Thank you.
Rex minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

My advise to the ex high commissioner is to cease your new Pakistan Govt. from begging aid from the foreign countries. The people in your country are the real asset of the country. Education,education, education are the solution for your country. If your engineers are unable to even manufacture a pilotless drone, your scientist have a long way to learn science. Try to seek a place in the German universities for your science students and leave the youth whose parents originated from your country and are not your citizens . The UK Govt. need to ensure that people applying for citizenship are properly vetted to ensure their absoloute loyalty for Britain.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

[…] for Reuters last year Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan talked of the “human bridge” that exists between Britain and Pakistan following post-World War II migration that brought many […]

Posted by Pakistan: Was it worth it? « fh43 | Report as abusive