MEMBERS of Blackburn’s Pakistani community were out in force in Bastwell yesterday to welcome a visiting dignitary.

Veteran Pakistani politician Chaudhry Khadim Hussain represents Jhelum in Pakistan, a district where many Bastwell residents originate from.

He has long served the people of Jhelum as an opposition politician, but now has more influence in the country as he is a member of Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan’s new party of government.

Several Bastwell residents went to Pakistan to campaign for Hussain in the recent elections, and posters encouraging support for him were displayed around Blackburn in the run-up to the election.

Community leaders and all three went to Plane Street to meet the politician, and people gathered to ask questions.

Bastwell councillor Iftakhar Hussain said: “We represent most of the Jhelum people who live here in Blackburn. Jhelum and Bastwell are almost like twin towns.

“He’s come here to thank people for supporting him and also to allow people to ask him questions and share their views.”

Coun Parwaiz, who comes from Jhelum, said: “People from the local community tell us that they should be allowed to vote in Pakistan, and we’ll also be putting that forward today.”

Coun Shaukat Hussain said: “We’re also going to hold him to account on the promises that he made during the election campaign.

We know that he hasn’t had much chance to make changes yet, but he said he would improve infrastructure and access to electricity and clean water in the country, and we’d like to talk about that.”

During his visit Hussain visited the council chambers, and was guest of honour at a dinner at Shahi Qila restaurant.

He said: “I would also like to say that all the residents here should live as good citizens and respect the laws of this country, and always wish well and pray for the country that they live in.

“I understand the affiliation that people have to back home, but this is their home now and they need to respect that.”