guest post by Rima Saini
The first of a series of four events presented by the RSA, City University London and the Samosa was a resounding success with a keynote speech by Conservative Chairman Baroness Warsi followed by a fiery Q and A session with Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa.
Anwar Akhtar began the lecture with an insight into his personal connection with Pakistan, drawing attention to the inspiration that British Pakistanis such as Amir Khan and Baroness Warsi herself are to those both here and in Pakistan, as strong British patriots with a love for their ancestral home.
Baroness Warsi began her speech with a similar rousing statement of unity.
With such intertwined history, and growing opportunities for trade and cooperation, both nations are, in her opinion, best placed to work together and serve the cause of progress.
Warsi reeled off some equally depressing statistics: 60 million people in 40,000 Pakistani villages have no electricity and the 2010 floods alone affected 20 million people destroying homes, businesses and families, with these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.
However, she also mentioned how the UK launched the largest ever humanitarian response to the crisis; she cited statistics from the Disasters Emergency Committee which show that donors gave an astounding £71 million to the Pakistan Floods Appeal last year.
She said that radicalism is fed by the ingrained anti-Muslim feeling inherent in Britain since the days of the empire, stating that in her experience at least, it was colour rather than religion that motivated her politically.
Such religious fundamentalism is more recent, in her opinion, as Islam is traditionally a diverse and inclusive religion, and most definitely not representative of the majority of the Pakistani Muslims as many might mistakenly believe.
She was right in saying that Pakistan also has a responsibility to position itself in its best light to the rest of the world, and avoid the media focus on religious fundamentalism that has drowned out its past achievements, and its potential successes, to the rest of the world.
So where does all of Warsi’s optimism come from? For her, Pakistan simply cannot afford to fail.
A longer version is at the Samosa
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Filed in: British Identity,Pakistan,South Asia