Brussels: British Conservative MEP, Sajjad Karim, and Malala Yousafzai sent a joint message from the European Parliament highlighting the importance of strong ties between the EU and Pakistan. The Governor of Punjab, Mohammad Sarwar, helped organise the reception and was there in attendance.
Yousafzai was hosted by MEP Karim at the Friends of Pakistan reception and the teenager commanded the stage despite being surrounded by MEPs, Ambassadors and other high level dignitaries.
MEP Karim, who is the chair and founder of the Friends of Pakistan group which was established in 2004, said “It was a great pleasure to have Malala address on the platform of the Friends of Pakistan group. Malala’s vision of free speech and education for all represents the thinking of most Pakistanis. She is the pride of not just Pakistan, but of humanity.”
The teenage campaigner spoke of the great importance between of EU-Pakistan ties and said that she hoped to go back to Pakistan to continue campaigning for equality and women empowerment:
“I love my country and I love my land. And I will never forget where I was born. It is my objective to go back to Pakistan and campaign for education.”
It has been over a year since the Taliban tried to assassinate Yousafzai in Pakistan; however the assassination and her subsequent astounding recovery propelled the school girl to become an international symbol for women’s education. Yousafzai and her family now live in the UK where she continues to fight for women’s education.
MEP Karim and his Friends of Pakistan group are instrumental in strengthening ties between the EU and Pakistan. This was recently boosted by Pakistan being one step closer to receiving GSP+ status in 2014. The MEP was influential in ensuring the South Asian country was included in the trade scheme which could promise 1million new jobs and a rise in Pakistani exports. He said:
It was a strong belief that Malala’s presence in the European Parliament touches upon another vital issue, TRADE, which will bear an influence on her campaign for women empowerment and education for all. No country wants to rely on hand-outs or aid. Each sovereign state seeks a sustainable way to improve their economy and subsequently the lives of their people.
With the GSP+ trade scheme likely to go ahead next year, Pakistan can start to build a better economy, provide better standard of living and promise a better future for its people.
Before this event Malala Yousafzai received the EU Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought. She is the first child to receive this award. LUDFORD Baroness Sarah (ALDE), WIKSTRÖM Cecilia,(ALDE), KOCH-MEHRIN Silvana (EPP), WAŁĘSA Jarosław (EPP), NIEBLER Angelika, (EPP), GAHLER Michael (EPP), David Martin (S&D), Ismat Jahan, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the EU, Munawar Saeed Bhatti, Ambassador of Pakistan to the EU, Mohammad Sarwar, Governor Punjab, WOOD Robert, US Mission to the EU, WILKINSON Lisa, US Mission to the EU, ROUBY Arielle, Advisor to Catherine ASHTON were among the guests at European Parliament Friends of Pakistan reception.