Monday June 17, 2024

UK envoy to Pakistan refuses to answer queries on MQM cases

By Asif Dar & Murtaza Ali Shah
February 17, 2016

Says UK govt can’t interfere in police probes;
lauds Pak-Britain relations in different fields

By Murtaza Ali Shah &
Asif Dar

LONDON: The British High Commissioner-Designate to Pakistan Thomas Drew has said he appreciates that the Mttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) related cases in the UK are a matter of “concern” for Pakistanis and he has been often asked about the progress on these cases in various meetings. 

On Tuesday, he was speaking to Pakistani media in the UK before leaving for Islamabad at the end of this week. He spoke fluent Urdu and said that he looked forward to representing Britain in Pakistan to take forward the “agenda trade”. 

Answering questions asked by The News, Thomas Drew said he expected that he will be asked questions about the MQM related cases when he is in Pakistan but stressed: “The police investigations in the UK are an operational matter for the police and the govt cant interfere in these probes”. He refused to answer when asked if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at any stage had issued an “advisory” or “consultation” to the crown prosecution service or the police. He was asked if it was true that the UK was playing a double game with Pakistan in areas including money-laundering, terrorism financing and cooperation on areas of mutual assistance to curb crimes. He said the police was working independently on these cases and anyone with evidence should contact the police. 

He hailed Pakistan Britain relations in different fields and said that both the countries are tide in the cultural and historical relations with each other and around 1.5 million Pakistanis living in Britain have made this country as their own home. 

Thomas Drew rejected this impression that 90 percent of visit and other visas to Pakistanis are being refused by British government and said that the matter may be other way round.

He was asked that on one hand visas are being refused and on the other hand the fees are not returned back to the people whom visas are refused, Thomas Drew said that he does not know about fees but he is sure the 90% visas are not refused.  

On this question that almost all of Pakistani students visas are denied by home office, he said that all the genuine students and other people are given visas according to law and non of the genuine student’s visa has been refused, however due to forged papers by some people and the bogus colleges there were some problems in the past but British government welcomes all genuine students in this country.

To a question about cricket in Pakistan Thomas Drew said that he would love to see Britain Cricket team to go to Pakistan and play but this has nothing to do with government but all these matters are decided by British Cricket Board.

He said: “Pakistan matters to the UK and, I like to think, the UK matters to Pakistan: for each others security, regional stability and for each others prosperity. “Central to that are the 1.5 million British people of Pakistani origin who have made the UK their home.  I saw that at first hand when I visited British Pakistani community leaders in Bradford last week.  We are like a family.  Our human, cultural and historical links mean that our relationship is long term.  It is broad as well as deep.  Our problems are shared. So is our potential.

“My most important task is to help unlock that potential. Pakistan’s potential is huge. It has a young and dynamic population. It has improving infrastructure. Its geographical location puts it at the centre of the global market and a new Silk Road. In Karachi it has one of the world’s 10 biggest cities. But to make the most of these long term opportunities, Pakistan also needs to overcome a range of challenges and threats. And we in Britain will help in whatever way we can. That means helping Pakistan become more stable, more prosperous and better governed.” 

He added: “As the Foreign Office’s National Security Director, I had a strong sense of the security challenges that Pakistan faced and the sacrifices it was making in trying to overcome them. I realized how important they were to Britain’s own national security.  Most recently, I was Principal Private Secretary (or Chief of Staff) to Foreign Secretaries William Hague and Philip Hammond.  There I had an overview of the whole breadth of our foreign policy interests. Pakistan was never far from the centre.

He said Pakistan was moving up and 2018 elections will be critical in further strengthening democracy and democratic institutions.  “I want British businesses also to play a part in the growth of Pakistan’s economy.  Though trade between our two countries increased 12% in 2014, it is still lower than it should be between such important partners."