London mayor Sadiq Khan today described himself as a ‘pioneer’ after becoming the first British politician in a generation to cross the border between India and Pakistan.
The Mayor defied the advice of Foreign Office officials to make the land crossing from the Indian town of Attari to Wagah in Pakistan.
He said it was an emotional journey, retracing his grandparents’ steps. His family originated in India but moved to Pakistan after partition.
The mayor was taken from the border to the city of Lahore in a heavily armed police convoy which included an ambulance and fire engine.
The Foreign Office advises British citizens to ‘exercise caution’ in Lahore because of recent terrorist attacks.
It’s been quite difficult to organise, I won’t pretend it’s not. The advice we received from the Foreign Office and others was this is not what politicians do. Not in a generation can anybody remember a British politician doing both countries in one trip. Nobody could tell me of an example of a British politician crossing the border this way. But we’re Londoners, we’re pioneers.
The Mayor spent the final hours of his visit to India visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He called on the British government to formally apologise for the deaths of at least 300 Sikhs in Amritsar in 1919.
British troops opened fire on unarmed civilians involved in a protest at Jallianwala Bagh. Mr Khan saw bullet holes in a wall of the garden where the victims died.