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MP under fire for links with former leader of Pakistan

By Nicola Jordan

Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti has come under fire for inviting Pakistan’s former prime minister to address a meeting at Westminster.

Nawaz Sharif is at the centre of a scandal over corruption charges and was forcibly removed from office by the country’s Supreme Court in July.

The court unanimously disqualified him from his position and ordered he face criminal proceedings.

Despite this, Mr Chishti has asked him to give a lecture in Parliament on ways of strengthening trade relations between the two nations.

His offer has been condemned as bringing shame on his constituency, party and the British parliament.

In a storm of protest on social media, the invitation has been described as an “embarrassment”, “shameful”, and “disgraceful”.

It has been reported they met at Sharif’s London home last month to discuss matters of mutual interest before Mr Chishti’s forthcoming trip to Pakistan as Britain’s trade envoy.

The south Asian country’s National Accountability Bureau has filed three cases of corruption and money laundering against the 67-year-old.

It is also pursuing claims against his family members and the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar Sharif.

Mr Chishti, who is also a Medway councillor, served as a political adviser to assassinated Benazir Bhutto between 1999 and 2007 after she had ceased being the Pakistan Prime Minister.

Mr Chishti has been criticised over the invitation to Westminster
Mr Chishti has been criticised over the invitation to Westminster

He said: “As an MP and also as a chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan, I engage with all stakeholders and political representatives of the main political parties there.

“Former Prime Minister Sharif is still the head of the PML-N political party which democratically won the 2013 elections and obtained the largest number of parliamentary seats, and is the current governing party of Pakistan.

“With regards to the points you raise on cases against him, I understand he is challenging them through the appellate process.

“It is important for MPs to engage with all the key main stakeholders from across the political spectrum, in building and strengthening our two great countries’ relationship.”

Medway Labour group leader, Cllr Vince Maple, says he is getting in touch with his national party headquarters to seek advice on the matter.

He said: “I would be concerned any elected councillor or MP might use their position to be in contact with a person who could bring the country into disrepute.”

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