London mayor says Pakistan needs a ‘helping hand’ to unlock potential


–Sadiq Khan says he’s lobbying for greater visa ease for South Asians

LAHORE: Terming Pakistan an emerging market in the world, London Mayor Sadiq Iman Khan on Wednesday said the country’s people needed a “helping hand” to unlock their potential.

Speaking to an enthralled audience at the Alhamra Hall here, Khan stated that he is lobbying for greater visa ease for South-Asians.

“After leaving the European Union, the Commonwealth is a potential market for British trade,” he added.

Khan is currently on the second leg of his #Londonisopen tour that has seen him visit three cities in India and is now in full swing in Pakistan.

“Culture is the DNA of great cities and since Lahore is a cultural legacy the world over, I am here with the message that London is open for Lahoris and the wider Pakistani community,” he said.

The London mayor is accompanied by a trade delegation which will look into business opportunities and bilateral economic ties in the emerging markets of Pakistan and India.

After reaching Lahore early morning through the Wagah border, Khan along with his delegation made a visit to Badshahi Mosque and paid respects at Allama Iqbal’s mausoleum.


The activities of his day included a moderated session at the historic Alhamra Hall on Mall Road where he was joined by ‘surprise guest’ Shahid Khan.

Speaking at the occasion, Sadiq Khan stated that the current combined tour to India and Pakistan, which was a historic first for any British politician, resonated with the journey his ancestors undertook decades earlier.


He stated that even though growing up he faced racism and difficulties because of his ethnicity and religion, he believes United Kingdom (UK), especially London, has progressed over the years.

“I did not face the challenges my parents did and my children did not face the challenges I did, this speaks volumes in terms of the tolerance that is now prevalent in London,” he stated.

Sadiq Khan speaking on the issue of terrorism stated that the motive of terrorists is to divide society, the only way both British and Pakistani populace can counter this is by standing together more united and being more tolerant of diverging ideas.

Sadiq Khan was joined on the stage by Shahid Khan a Pakistani-American billionaire and business tycoon.

Shahid Khan is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL), the English Football League Championship team Fulham F.C., and automobile parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate in Urbana, Illinois.


Shahid Khan also reiterated the view that Pakistan had a huge potential in terms of an economic upheaval and that it was important for Muslims world over to disregard the current wave of anti- Islam sentiment and work their way forward with vigour.

The session was attended by socialities, students, budding entrepreneurs and people from every walk of life who were excited to hear what the London mayor had to offer.

Senior TV anchorperson and Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami who was in attendance stated,”Mayor Khan is a role model for people in Pakistan. He is a person with humble background who became the mayor of London with sheer hard work and achieved the highest number of votes in his elections.”

He further recalled a comment he made previously,” …. in the presence of chief minister I asked if the same opportunities [that were available to Sadiq Khan in London] are available for people in Pakistan”.


Talking to Pakistan Today after the session ended, Shahid Khan reiterated the importance of sports in a country and stated,” It is important for countries to bring competitive sports into the mainstream. It is only when a sport gets official backing that players choose to indulge in it professionally.”

Ali Ahsan, co-founder of social media site Mangobaaz, termed the visit important for newly emerging businesses. He said such visits will increase people to people contact between the two countries.

TV anchorperson Wajahat Saeed Khan said, “We should be proud of Sadiq Khan as Pakistanis. He will better represent the interest of the Pakistani and Muslim community in London and I hope he petitions the UK government to make travel and visa policies easier for our people.”

The session ended with tea being served to the attendees and the London mayor happily accepting requests by avid fans for photographs.