LONDON – Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will lead a trade mission to Pakistan and India later this year with a view to boosting economic and cultural ties between the two countries.
Sadiq Khan would be meeting top business figures from the IT industry to Bollywood and would visit Indian cities Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar.
After winding up the first leg of the tour, Khan would be arriving in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.
The British politician will be flanked by a delegation of UK business leaders to call on politicians, investors and entrepreneurs from across South Asia on the trip. which is aimed at strengthening trade and investment links as well as promoting cultural exchange.
‘The tour is aimed at strengthening trade and investment links as well as promoting cultural exchange’ said a statement issued by his office.
“As someone whose grandparents were born in India, and whose parents moved to London from Pakistan, I feel a deep affinity for the subcontinent,” the Mayor said.
“But what excites me most about this trip is that I know it can deliver real benefits for Londoners. Benefits in terms of business and trade, jobs and investment, and in terms of cultural and technological exchange.”
The core agenda of the landmark visit will be spreading the message that ‘London is open’ to those looking to work, visit or study following the EU referendum.
“I am passionate about showing that my city will always be open to engaging with partners from around the world,” the Mayor said.
Currently, bilateral trade between the UK and Pakistan is valued at £2 billion and Khan’s tour would be the first by a British politician to both countries in recent times.
It bears mentioning that Sadiq Khan got elected to the office in a historic election last year in May.
Born in London in 1970 to parents who had recently arrived from Pakistan. He grew up in public housing with his six brothers and sister in Tooting, an ethnically diverse residential area in the south of the city.
But his modest background plays well in a city that boasts about its diversity and loves a self-made success story.
Khan regularly recalls how his father drove London’s famous red buses; how his mother was a seamstress and one of his brothers a motor mechanic.
At school, he wanted to study science and become a dentist. But one of his teachers spotted his gift for verbal sparring and directed him towards law.
He became a lawyer specializing in human rights, and spent three years at the human rights campaign group Liberty.
He is also handy at actual sparring, having learnt how to box to defend himself in the streets against those who hurled racial slurs at him.
Aged 15, he joined the Labour Party and he became a councilor in the mainly-Conservative Wandsworth local borough in 1994, a post he held until 2006.
In 2005 he gave up his legal career on becoming a member of parliament for Tooting, where he still lives, with his lawyer wife Saadiya and their two daughters.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown made him the communities minister in 2008 and he later served as Britain’s transport minister, becoming the first Muslim minister to attend Cabinet.
While Conservatives try to establish links between him and Islamic extremists, he points out that he voted for gay marriage – which earned him death threats – and he has always denounced radicalism as cancer.