Euro MP joins Queen in receiving top Pakistan honour

Lancashire Euro MP Dr Sajjad Karim was presented with Pakistan’s highest national honour to non-Pakistanis for services that have helped the country.

Sajjad Karim MEP's top honour in Pakistan (S)
Sajjad Karim MEP's top honour in Pakistan (S)

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

Dr Karim, a Simonstone resident who was previously a Pendle councillor, 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 his efforts and the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan group he founded in 2004.

In December, 2013, following an eight-year campaign, the European Parliament approved GSP+ trade status for Pakistan, allowing Pakistani textiles to flow easily into Europe.

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

Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Dr KArim’s work, saying: “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 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.”

Sajjad Karim MEP's top honour in Pakistan (S)

Dr Karim said: “Through the Friends of Pakistan group, I have been honoured to champion UK/EU relations with Pakistan and know our work has benefitted 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 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.”