Friday 2 April 2010

Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hassan defies diplomatic decorum and aligns with Labour Party in the UK

Wajid Shamsul Hassan, Pakistan's High Commissioner in the UK is not a man known for mincing words when speaking his mind, with the exception, of course, of occasions when he is having to defend his lord and master president Zardari of Pakistan. Early this week he decided to deviate from diplomatic protocols and advised the British voters of Pakistani origin in Manchester, in no uncertain terms, to vote for Labour Party in the forthcoming general elections.

The High Commissioner was the guest of honour at a fund raising reception organised by supporters of Qasim Afzal, Liberal Democrat candidate for Gorton constituency in Manchester standing in the forthcoming general elections. Liberal Democrat leadership including Lord Dick Newby, and Chris Davies and a number of Liberal Democrat local councillors were in for a surprise when the High Commissioner, when invited to speak formally from the stage, chose to remind the audience, whose majority incidentally was of Pakistani origin, that the only political party in the UK that has taken concrete steps to support Pakistan in its disputes with India were the Labour party. Mr Shamsul Hassan reminded the audience of Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne and her alleged activities that went against the Pakistani interests on the Kashmir issue. He told that audience that though he is addressing a fund raising reception for Liberal Democrats but cannot advise the audience to vote for their candidate - he would rather they remembered that its Labour Party who have a track record of supporting Pakistan.

I understand that the High Commissioner represents the state of Pakistan but should he not stay away from getting directly involved in the internal party politics of Britain. He was a guest of honour at a Liberal Democrat fund raising evening simply because the candidate Qasim Afzal is of Pakistani origin and many among the audience had strong links with Pakistan. Many among them still like to honour their country of origin by inviting the diplomats to their functions. I do not believe that the High Commissioner reciprocated that honour by insulting the hosts publicly from the stage.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately your correspondent has misquoted me. I was invited by Councillor Qasim Afzal to his fund raiser and when I was told that they would like me to say a few words I had told the organisers that as a diplomat I cannt support this party or that. When I was inisted to speak I did say--with reference to Qasim Afzal's remarks-- that Labour was the only party in 63 years that had supported the right of self-determinationfor the people of kashmir. It was a "diplomatic triumph" for Pakistan as described by the Indian media when Labour Party adopted a resolution in its annual conference in Brighton in October 1995 in support for the right of self-determination. It had also reiterated that Kashmir was part of unfinished agenda of the partition brought about by the Labour Party in 1947. It had also reaffirmed that it was Labour's moral obligation to play a role to resolve the dispute that could push India and Pakistan to a nuclear war. I had praised the then Shadow Foreign Secretary Robin Cook for moving the resolution drafted by Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman. As one would recall Robin Cook--as Labour Foreign secretary--accompanying the Queen to Pakistan and India in 1997--had got involved in a major media controversy when he offered to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir dispute. He was accused of spoiing the Royal visit by the Indian and British media. Much similarly present Foreign secretary david Miliband too, recently said the same thing in so many words causing a storm in Indian media. He said that India must recognise that it was Kashmir issue that was a cause of terrorism in the region. He advised Delhi not to close its eyes to the presence of an "elephant" in the room.

    I reminded those present of the role that is being played by Lib-Dem Baroness Emma Nicholson vis-a-vis Kashmir and referred to the series of seminars she is holding objecting to the status of a province given to Gilgat-Baltistan on the specific desire of the people forgetting that she did not object when Indiands made occupied Kashmir their province. Your correspondent has mentioned about Liz Lynn. I did not refer to her in my short speech.
    I am putting this to put the record straight and not by way of supporting this party or that. Whenever I have been asked to speak on such occasions I have advised the Pakistani-Kashmiri origin diaspora to vote for the best candidates and to participate in elections in full strength to support the people who could voice their causes in the Parliament.

    Incidentally it was not only me but the main Lib-dem speaker who also mentioned that Mr Kaufman was the only person with consistent stand on Palestine and Kashmir in support of the people. I had just put the record straight.

    wajid shamsul hasan, high commissioner for Pakistanto UK