Islamabad: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday on a three-day official visit.
The mayor and his 16-member delegation were received by officials from the Punjab government. Sadiq Khan spent the first day meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and touring the historical city of Lahore.
With this visit, the London mayor aims to boost investment and cultural exchange programmes between London and Pakistan.
During his meetings, Sadiq Khan acknowledged that one of the biggest reasons why London is the world’s greatest is because of the contribution on Londoners who hail from Pakistan. “Pakistanis are welcome to come to London to study and work. Many successful Londoners who are scientists, teachers, and business owners are Pakistanis” Sadiq Khan acknowledged.
He hoped for good friendships, and partnerships between the two countries. “Better trade terms will be formed in coming years between Pakistan and London.”
“After celebrating 70 years of Pakistan this year, I look forward to the next 70 years to celebrate the friendship between London and Pakistan” he said.
After the meeting with London mayor, Shehbaz Sharif tweeted: “It was a pleasure to host Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, [who speaks Urdu really well] and his delegation in Lahore. Had a thorough discussion on promoting trade and investment between our two countries. The UK-Pakistan partnership continues to deepen with passage of time.”
Sadiq Khan also visited historical places in Lahore on his first visit. He visited the famous Badshahi Mosque and paid tribute at the tomb of Allama Iqbal. A guard of honour was presented to the London mayor during his visit to Iqbal’s tomb.
“I’m proud to be the first-ever Mayor of London to be making an official visit to Pakistan. As someone of Pakistani heritage, I feel a deep affinity with the country and I’m looking forward to going back” Sadiq Khan pronounced in his recent article published in Dawn newspaper
He also noted that: “London and Pakistan share a long and unique history that has had a profound influence on shaping our respective societies, economies and cultures.”
“I believe London and Pakistan’s cities can speed up innovation, boost economic growth and development, and tackle some of the major challenges we both face — from air pollution and climate change, to good growth and jobs.”
Open for business
Khan’s visits to Pakistan and India are part of the “London is Open” campaign — launched by the mayor — to show that London is united and open for businesses, and to the world.
“The main reason I am here is to spread the message that ‘London is Open’ for business, friendship, and trade,” he said while speaking to Pakistani media. “I love Pakistan and am aware of the challenges faced by the country” he said.
However, he assured Pakistanis that “despite Brexit, London will always remain open to the world and open to business and talent from Pakistan.”
Earlier this week, Khan visited India where he met the country’s top businessmen and celebrities.
This is the first visit by the mayor of London to both South Asian rival countries in recent years. He is accompanied by a team of British IT executives, who have been meeting politicians, investors and entrepreneurs in Pakistan and India to strengthen trade links with both countries.
Khan is expected to visit Karachi and Islamabad in next days.