LONDON: Two Prominent British businessmen of Pakistani origin have been appointed as Senior Policy Advisers to influential European Conservatives. Saqib Bhatti and Aftab Chughtai MBE, both from Birmingham, have been appointed as Senior Policy advisers to the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) in an attempt to reach out to Muslim communities and countries where there is a strong tradition of conservative and reform parties. The appointment of Bhatti and Chughtai is a first for the organisation and they have been tasked with recruiting like-minded conservative parties from around the world. The duo told The News that their first visit was to Tunisia in December 2016 where they met prominent members of the Conservative Right Political Parties, Afek Tounes and the Ennahda Party. During their time in Tunis, they met with senior representatives from the government including the Minister for Employment and Professional Development, Mr Imed Hammami and Minister for Trade and Commerce Mr Ziad Laadhari. They also met the Chairman of the Ennahda Party, Mr Rashed Gannouchi who was named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. Saqib Bhatti and Aftab Chughtai MBE said that they will be opening talks with Pakistani political parties to explore common grounds between the European and Pakistani reform parties to strengthen relations across a range of issues of mutual interest.
Saqib Bhatti, a chartered accountant from Birmingham and also President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce told: “It was a great privilege to be working with ACRE as it recognises the importance of international dialogue and co-operation, and through this appointment we will be meeting conservative parties across the world promoting greater relations with parties that share a belief in fundamental democratic and conservative values.” Aftab Chughtai MBE, who runs retail stores in Birmingham and was honoured earlier this year by the Buckingham Palace for his contributions to business and community cohesion, highlighted the commonality between Islamic and Conservative Values. “If you explore fundamental conservative values such as family, low taxes, free market economies, many of these are concepts which were promoted when Islam first came about. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself was a prominent businessman as was his wife. We look forward to finding common thinking conservative parties across the world and welcoming them to the Global Conservative Family.” Both Chughtai and Bhatti played a prominent role in the Vote Leave campaign and were accredited for being responsible for Birmingham voting to leave the European Union. They set up a campaign group called “Muslims for Britain” aimed at engaging British Muslims on key national issues. Muslims for Britain claims that around 800,000 British Muslims voted to leave the European Union based on issues ranging from sovereignty, trade and immigration. ACRE is headed by senior British Conservative politician Daniel Hannan MEP and senior Czech Republic politician Jan Zahradil MEP. The Board of ACRE includes Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Turkey’s AK Party, the UK’s ruling Conservative Party and Iceland’s Independence Party. ACRE claims that it’s the fastest growing politician movement in the world. It has representatives in the European Parliament, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe and in the Committee of the Regions. It is also a leading member of the International Democratic Union. 32 politician parties from across the world are members including Australia’s Liberal Party, New Zealand’s National Party and Morocco’s Independence Party.