BRUSSELS: British MEP, Sajjad Karim, was awarded a special honorary doctorate for his work in improving relations between the EU, UK and Pakistan.
Dr Sajjad Karim received the PhD from the prestigious University of Management and Technology, Lahore. The Governor of Punjab, Mohammed Sarwar, conferred the honorary doctorate on November 30th 2013 and was the first to congratulate the British politician.
Since the announcement was made, Dr Karim has been inundated with thousands of ordinary citizens from Europe and Pakistan who have contacted to express their congratulations. He said:
“I am delighted to accept the doctorate from the prestigious University of Management and Technology in recognition of the tireless contribution made by the millions of overseas Pakistani’s who seek betterment for their country of Pakistan.”
“It is a truly wonderful acknowledgement and a most pleasant surprise to be recognised by UMT for my work. I will use the title with honour.”
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 Dr Karim and the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan group which he founded in 2004.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet with Dr Sajjad Karim on the 14th December before the convocation ceremony at UMT on 16th December. It will not be Dr Karim’s first time at UMT, he previously addressed the Pakistan Business Council, where the audience were some of the most senior industrialists and businesses in Pakistan.
The Friends of Pakistan group, which Dr Karim chairs, holds a strong membership of cross party MEPs from all over Europe and has been influential in calling for Pakistan to receive humanitarian aid to help the victims of the 2010 and 2011 floods where approximately 8million people were affected. The European Commission’s humanitarian contribution for Pakistan came to a total of €70 million in 2012.
Dr Karim also spearheaded the campaign to ensure Pakistan was able to rebuild its economy after the devastating floods by voting through a trade waiver which gives preferential access on 75 goods for Pakistan to export to the EU.
Dr Karim championed the need for Pakistan to rely on trade, not aid, and is currently working hard on securing the GSP+ status for Pakistan.
The GSP+ trade scheme will allow Pakistan to import more goods into the EU by paying zero or lower tariff prices. The textiles sector continues to account for 75% of Pakistan’s exports to the EU and would receive a significant boost by entering the 5billion euro EU market.
It is almost a year ago this month when Dr Karim worked closely with Pakistan’s previous Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, to bring home a young British girl who was taken by her father to Pakistan and kept hidden from her mother. The young girl, who was taken at the age of 3, was brought back to the UK on Christmas Day last year and made headlines across the UK.
Dr Karim also helped to end the nightmare of Mirza Tahir Hussain, a UK citizen, who was on parole for a death sentence in Pakistan. Dr Karim lead the EU campaign and worked in conjunction with Prince Charles and the Government of Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf, who was Pakistan’s president at the time, issued a presidential pardon to prevent Hussain’s hanging.
The EU-Pakistan relationship has moved on considerably in the past decade. Most notably the input of Ambassadors Jalil Abbas Jilani and Munawar Saeed Bhatti, and today the work of Governor Punjab Mohammed Sarwar have greatly helped in developing relations. For his part Dr Karim MEP sincerely wishes to see greater engagement from elected Pakistani parliamentarians.