FORMER Glasgow Labour MP Muhammad Sarwar has resigned from his position as governor of Punjab in Pakistan.
The veteran politician, who became Britain’s first Muslim MP in 1997, stepped down after becoming embroiled in a row over the Pakistani government’s foreign policy.
The 62-year-old had become increasingly frustrated with corruption and diplomatic failures in his homeland, factors which led to him leaving the post he took up less than 18 months ago.
Mr Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Govan and Glasgow Central for 13 years, said he had always wanted to serve Pakistan, but was hampered by “very deep-rooted” injustice and corruption that is “backed by bureaucracy”.
His comments this week regarding Pakistan’s failure to secure a visit by US president Barack Obama sparked controversy. He described it as a “big failure on the foreign affairs front” for the Pakistani government, remarks which led to prime minister Nawaz Sharif asking for his resignation, according to reports.
However, Mr Sarwar said yesterday he had left the governor’s office of his own accord. Clarifying his earlier remarks, he said: “I have no objection to Obama’s India visit but he should have treated Pakistan equally and visited to express solidarity.”
Writing on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, the millionaire businessman said he would continue serving Pakistan in an “individual capacity”. He wrote: “I always believe that all public offices, including the office of governor of Punjab, are just means of public service.”
“And if I am not able to serve my land, my people and my nation in capacity of a governor, I see no reason just to hold the slot as to cling on to the post had never been my motive, intention or destination. I tried my level best to use each and every bit of my official capacity for the betterment of my people but now I feel with all of my conviction and sincerity that time has come to relinquish the official responsibilities.
“I shall always be there to strive for a better and secure Pakistan and shall do everything possible to achieve that destination.”
He added: “I shall do everything possible to achieve a better and corruption-free Pakistan. It is disheartening to know that the news of my resignation are being manipulated. No one asked me for my resignation.
“I had always wished to serve my own country and the people of Pakistan. I wanted to serve my people and attain justice for the overseas Pakistanis.
“Unfortunately, the injustice and corruption prevalent in Pakistan is very deep-rooted and backed by bureaucracy. It is dismaying that I have been unable to attain justice for the destitute because of lack of empowerment. My life and my death is for my homeland, Pakistan.”
Mr Sarwar came to Britain in the early 1970s and built a successful cash and carry business before entering politics.
The entrepreneur left Westminster in 2010 and gave up his British citizenship to take on the senior role as governor of one of Pakistan’s largest provinces in August 2013.
His son Anas Sarwar, the former deputy leader of Scottish Labour, who won the Westminster seat vacated by his father, suggested he had tendered his resignation on principle.
“He is an honest man, doing the honest thing. We know that he is a straight talker who doesn’t do compromises,” he said.
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