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Tuesday Dec 11 2018

Pakistan needs to 'reform its electoral process', says British MP Faisal Rashid

LONDON: Faisal Rashid, a British-Pakistani member of the UK Parliament (MP) associated with the Labour Party, has revealed that he had spent only about £13,000 (or Rs2 million) to become the member of British parliament during the last general election.

In an interview with Geo News, the MP said he had spent around £13,000 in total for his election campaign and that that money was raised by the local party members.

“It would be unthinkable for anyone to become a parliamentarian in Pakistan with this kind of amount raised through small donations and contributions by the local party members," the MP said.

"I think it’s hugely important for Pakistan to reform its electoral process for better governance and genuine representation,” he added, noting that every political party in Pakistan relied on rich people to fund its expenses.

Without reforming the system, he said, no change will occur in the country and its democratic system's long-term future will remain in peril. It is also important that Pakistan reform its local government system, which is the key to vibrant and successful communities, he mentioned.

The MP explained that being a member of the British House of Commons’ International Trade Committee has allowed him to see that although numerous foreign governments were doing their best to improve trade relations with the UK, there has been no such effort on part of the Pakistani government ever since he was elected in June 2017.

He said: “Brexit offers huge opportunities for Pakistan. I have seen governments of India, Bangladesh, and many other countries pushing trade with the UK at the government level.

"I have seen this happening as a member of International Trade select committee, which oversees the Department for International Trade. The Pakistani government needs to engage with the British government for the post-Brexit scenario as well as generally, to avail opportunities to increase trade and commerce," he added.

Rasheed launched the All Parties Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Two months ago, he chaired the first event of the group in the House of Commons, inviting the Chinese Ambassador to the UK as the chief guest, who spoke about the latter project and Sino-Pak relations.

The MP said he would open up an inquiry into the CPEC and the BRI at the parliamentary level and invite the Pakistani government to take part and present its case there. He said this initiative would help the country attract more foreign investment.

He also commented on how investors in Britain — and at the western level — are keen to avail opportunities that the CPEC offers.

"There is a lot of interest by British investors in the CPEC," he said.

Rasheed, the former Warrington Mayor, said British Prime Minister Theresa May has plunged her country into a crisis and has no plans to steer it out of chartered waters safely. He said she did not enjoy the confidence of her own party or the country owing to having trapped herself consequent to the bad deal she pursued.

Rasheed called on May to resign and let Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn take over as the minority government PM. “The Labour Party has the manifesto of a way forward and that’s the only progressive solution to take Britain out of the EU safely," he noted.

He said the deal that May has put to the UK Parliament is a monumental and damaging failure for Britain and this is not something the British people wanted.