ISLAMABAD - Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that the parliamentarians of Pakistani origin elected to the legislatures around the world could serve as a bridge between the East and the West, portraying the true image of peaceful, democratic and progressive Pakistan.

He said that Pakistani expatriates were an asset of Pakistan who were equal partners in the progress and the prosperity of Pakistan. The speaker said this in his opening remarks while inaugurating the 1st Conference of the parliamentarians of Pakistan Origin here in the Parliament House.

The speaker underlined the need to institutionalise and bring the legislators of Pakistani origin on one platform. He said that despite of their being thousands of miles way from their homeland, their hearts beat with their Pakistani brethren. He assured them that present political dispensation in the country fully acknowledge their contributions and wants their active participation in the national affairs. He said that Pakistan was facing menace of terrorism and extremism for the last few decades, however, the western world was not fully aware of the sacrifices made by the Pakistani people. He urged them to help clear their negative perceptions and rectify the distorted image of Pakistan propagated by western media.

The guest parliamentarians appreciated the speaker for his initiative and agreed for making a permanent forum which should meet annually to share ideas and best parliamentary practices. They said that they live abroad, however they are emotionally attached to Pakistan. They said that it was heartening to see the strengthening of democracy and economic progress, the country was making under the present political leadership. They extended their unwavering support for removing negativity about Pakistan. The parliamentarians stressed the need for giving the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis for giving them sense of ownership in the affairs of their homeland. They also suggested for making Pakistan missions abroad, more vibrant and interactive with the Pakistani community. They thanked the speaker for inviting them to witness the Pakistan parade and other state functions.

The parliamentarians appreciated the participation of Pakistani womenfolk in the national political arena, however, suggested for tapping the immense youth potential in Pakistan. They offered their services and expertise for development of socio-economic sectors.

The Members of the National Assembly of Pakistan welcomed their colleagues, saying that they were pride of Pakistan while serving in the legislatures of foreign countries. They said that they were the ambassadors of Pakistan and should help addressing the problems confronting Pakistan. They suggested for regular interaction for exchange of views and best practices.

After wide-ranging discussions, it was principally agreed to form a forum of parliamentarians of Pakistani origin with its secretariat in Islamabad. It was further decided to workout further modalities with mutual consultation.

The Parliamentarians later visited the National Assembly Hall and appreciated the exquisite architecture of the Parliament House and the National Assembly Chamber.

The parliamentarians who participated in the conference were Member Canadian Senate Senator Salma Ataullah Jan, Member Norwegian Parliament Chaudhry Khalid Mehmood, Member Welsh National Assembly (UK) Mohammad Asghar, Member Provincial Parliament of Etobicoke (Canada)  Shafiq Qadri, Member Parliament of Brussels Capital Region (Belgium) Dr Manzoor Zahoor Ellahi, Member Parliament of Kenya Shakeel Shabbir Ahmad, and Dr Ashraf Choudhary, former Member of House of Representatives of New Zealand, MNAs Abdul Rasheed Godil, Raja Javed Ikhlas, Zahra Wadood Fatehmi, Ch. Jafar Iqbal and Marrium Aurangzeb.