Pakistan-origin MP backs Sabapathy over ‘civility’ comments

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Sep 16, 2015 01:15 IST

Khalid Mahmood, a senior Pakistan-origin Labour MP from Birmingham Perry Barr has come out in support of Chennai-born Paul Sabapathy, who resigned last week following a furore over his comments seen as derogatory to the Pakistani community.

Sabapathy, the lord lieutenant of Queen Elizabeth in the West Midlands, made the remarks after Pakistan’s independence day celebrations on August 14 at its consulate in Birmingham, when he was not shown due respect.

Mahmood said there was nothing wrong in Sabapathy’s comments that Pakistanis in Britain needed to be taught “basic common courtesy and civility”. Sabapathy was the first non-white to hold the royal post since 2007.

Sabapathy – honoured with a CBE – made the comments in a private email that was leaked to The Guardian, and he later apologised for any offence caused to the Pakistani community.

However, the newspaper reported on Tuesday that Mahmood wanted Sabapathy to be reinstated in his royal post. Calling Sabapathy a “honourable man with noble intentions”, he said the royal aide had been made a scapegoat simply for telling the truth about the Pakistani community.

Mahmood said: “As lord lieutenant of the county, he should have been given more respect… They do need to understand that. I am happy to say that.

We do need to have a lot more respect in terms of the Pakistani community’s understanding of what the civic structures are there for and how they must engage with them. Until they are prepared to do that I don’t think the community as a whole will move forward.”

According to Mahmood, Sabapathy’s only crime was to try to encourage Pakistanis to better integrate.

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