The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi, Thursday 30th June 2011
Speaking at the OIC Foreign Minister’s Conference as the first British Government Minister
Op-ed by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.
This week, the prime minister and I visited Pakistan to mark a new chapter in the relationship between our governments and our peoples.
As Prime Minister Cameron said, this was a “Naya Aghaz”, forming an unbreakable bond of friendship between our two countries. As David Cameron explained, we want a strong relationship with a secure, prosperous, open and flourishing Pakistan. We want to strengthen that relationship, both now and in the long-term. As a British Cabinet Minister whose parents came from Pakistan, this was a very special moment for me – and something I’ve been waiting to hear for many years.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi returned to Pakistan six months on from the devastating floods to learn how the country is recovering, to learn what more needs to be done, and to see how more than £200million (27.7 billion rupees) from British people is supporting Pakistani people affected by the floods.
Speaking during his visit International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell made clear the UK was standing by Pakistan and announced a further allocation of UK support which will help fight the spread of disease; shelter displaced families; and provide more support – including food and medical supplies – to provinces in the south of Pakistan. This means that UK aid will now benefit up to three million people affected by the floods. (August 18th 2010)
Speaking at the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, July 20th 2010 Sayeeda Warsi said;
I’ve had a fantastic few days in Pakistan. Everywhere I’ve been, people have given me an amazingly warm welcome. And I want to say a special thank you to the Ministry for Women’s Development and to Fatima Jinnah University for hosting me this evening and for giving me a chance to talk some of the things I’ve been thinking about over the last few days.
As I’ve travelled round, people keep saying how amazing it is that I’m the first Muslim woman in the British Cabinet. They say it’s exceptional, remarkable, an unique achievement – and that’s made me think .
Of course, it is great that a woman, a Muslim, whose family originated in Pakistan can get into the British Cabinet. And ladies and gentlemen, of course I’m incredibly proud – and also actually quite humbled.
On Monday, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi met with some of the political leaders of Pakistan. She met with the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raza Yousaf Gilani, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Women’s Development Yasmeen Rehman and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif.
On Monday evening, Baroness Warsi was hosted by Prime Minister Gilani for a dinner at Prime Minister’s House. (July 19th 2010)
In July, Sayeeda visited the home village of her family in Bewal, Punjab. She was welcomed to the village at a rally of around 2,000 members of the community of Bewal.
Addressing the rally, Baroness Warsi said: “I stand in front of you today as a British Cabinet Minister, from a country where whatever your faith, gender or background, it is no longer a barrier to your success.”