MEP presented with Pakistan's highest honour

North West MEP, Sajjad Karim, has been presented with Pakistan’s highest national honour to non-Pakistanis for services that have helped the country.

Sajjad Karim 2He was awarded the Sitara-i-Qaid-i-Azam in Islamabad by Mamnoon Hussain, the president of Pakistan, joining ranks with the British Queen and Nelson Mandela.

Dr Karim has been one of the most prominent British politicians to advocate Pakistan’s case within the EU, and the UK has been at the forefront in supporting Pakistan. Links have developed significantly over the past decade through the efforts of Sajjad and the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan group which he founded in 2004.

In December 2013, following an eight year campaign, the European Parliament finally approved GSP+ trade status for Pakistan, which allows Pakistani textiles to flow easily into Europe. It is estimated to create one million jobs in the country’s ailing textile industry and the EU and UK are keen to combat terrorism by supporting stability and security in the region. European consumers will also benefit from cheaper imports made in Pakistan.

In recognition of his work towards achieving this, Dr Karim was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Management and Technology in Lahore and travelled to Pakistan to be presented with the award by the then Governor of Punjab, Mohammad Sawar, himself a past Member of the UK Parliament in Westminster.

British prime minister, David Cameron, who Dr Karim has worked closely with, said: “Saj is a hardworking MEP who spearheaded tariff free access to the EU for Pakistan and has done much to promote relations between the UK, EU and Pakistan. I congratulate him on being awarded the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam. You are a great ambassador for the party, the region and the United Kingdom.”

The European Conservatives & Reformists Group leader, Syed Kamall MEP, also spoke highly of Dr Karim: “Sajjad is a diligent MEP and has been an advocate of EU-Pakistan relations during his time in the European Parliament. This award recognises his years of commitment to maintaining and building closer ties between the EU and Pakistan.”

Commenting on being presented the award Sajjad said: “Through the Friends of Pakistan group, I have been honoured to champion UK/EU relations with Pakistan and to know that our work has benefited the people of Pakistan. So many individuals played a role in developing stronger links between the EU and Pakistan, I am merely fortunate to be recognised on all of their behalf. “I feel truly privileged to be presented with this award and I will never forget this day. As a British Pakistani, I will always strive to further strengthen connections between the UK, EU and Pakistan. It has been a long road towards achieving what we set out to do and we still have far to travel, encouraging Pakistan on the route to greater economic and political stability, as well as growth.”