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September 16, 2019

From Gujjar Khan to House of Lords: Zameer Choudrey’s success story

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September 16, 2019

LONDON: British Pakistani business tycoon Zameer Choudrey has said while taking oath as a member of the House of Lords he will remember — and never forget — his humble origins in a small village of Gujjar Khan, near Rawalpindi.

In an interview with The News after being appointed as House of Lords member on the Conservative benches, Lord Choudrey recalled how as a 12-year-old he came to the United Kingdom with his family, hailing from a working class background. Lord Choudrey is a nephew of billionaire Sir Anwar Pervez who worked as a bus conductor after coming to the UK, opened a corner shop and then went on to establish a multi-billion pounds cash and carry business empire with the help of his family. Her Majesty the Queen gave him knighthood for his services in trade industry.

Lord Choudrey said: “I always proudly say that we are villagers. I originate from a village called Thathi. It’s in District Gujjar Khan near Rawalpindi. We came to the UK from Thathi. At the age of 12 when I came here, I had not seen the city of Gujjar Khan. I made it purpose of my life to work hard with sincerity of purpose. We are clean-hearted and we have grown up with the belief that only hard work pays. This is what I teach my kids that work hard and Allah will help you.”

Lord Choudrey currently heads Conservative Friends of Pakistan, a group dedicated to working within Pakistani communities to increase membership of Pakistanis in British politics from the platform of Conservative Party. Two months ago, he took the chairman of the Conservative Party to Pakistan for a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Lord Choudrey said he would do his best in his new role as Tory House of Lords member to improve relations between the UK and Pakistan. “Pakistan and UK have strong trade ties. I will do my best to make sure that our cultural and trade relations are enhanced and further strengthened. Both countries share joint interests and our party’s values have similarity with Pakistani values,” he said.

Lord Choudrey said being appointed as House of Lords member is a humbling experience for him and credit goes to his colleagues, friends and family who supported him in his work. “I have been chosen to represent thousands of hard working people who have put in hard effort to make our brand a success.”

The Bestway CEO said his family started small but grew, expanded and paid taxes on profits and kept growing. “We are the second largest wholesale business in UK. We own 800 Bestway retail stores. We own pharmacy and property businesses. In Pakistan we own United Bank Limited and Bestway Cement. In UK we employ more than 15,000 people and in Pakistan the number stands at around 23,000.”

Lord Choudrey said his business group has given lots of money in donation to promote education in the UK and Pakistan to fulfill the Islamic obligation of helping the needy to get education. “There is no better investment than investing in education. For Muslims, giving charity is one of the pillars of Islam. Education has long-term impact. We have given over 500 scholarships to students of Pakistani origin in universities in Bradford, Kent and Oxford. We have given dozens of scholarships to educational institutions in Pakistan. We recently gave 20 scholarships to the NUST.”

Lord Choudrey will take oath in a few days at the House of Lords. However, he will remain focused on doing his business and will use his business skills for debates around business and commerce in House of Lords. “I will be doing specialist contributions in House of Lords in the area that I know best about it. I will not go into other areas which are not my forte,” said Choudrey.

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