Pakistan, UK close ties to be further strengthened: PM Gilani


Islamabad : Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Saturday expressed the hope that the close friendly relations with UK would be further strengthened and flourish during the tenure of new British High Commissioner to Pakistan.

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He underscored the importance which the democratic Government of Pakistan attached to the Pakistan-UK Strategic Dialogue- an institutionalized forum for cooperation in various fields and to regular high level contacts between the two sides for taking the present bilateral cooperation in diverse fields to a new height.

The Prime Minister was talking to Adam Thomson, British High Commissioner in Islamabad who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House.The High Commissioner was accompanied by Dr. Peter Tibber, Deputy High Commissioner and Chris Sainty, Political Counsellor.

Prime Minister said that Pakistan had taken up the challenge to curb the menace of terrorism and extremism in the larger interest of international peace and security and hence it was imperative for the international community to extend the requisite support to Pakistan in the capacity building of its law enforcement agencies as well as in the reconstruction of areas cleared from militancy.

He appreciated that the UK was amongst those few countries which had promptly delivered on its pledges of economic and security assistance at this critical juncture.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan requires support from friends like UK to take the lead role for grant of greater access to Pakistani goods in European Union markets.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and GSP Plus, he said, could greatly facilitate in creation of new jobs opportunities in militancy affected areas to save the unemployed youth from the influence of militants and in reducing dependence on aid and financial assistance.

The Prime Minister said that in order to effectively fight terrorism the National Terrorism Control Authority would be strengthened with the highest level representation from the provinces, AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan to ensure better coordination for sharing the available resources and information.

He, however, underlined the imperative that Pakistan had to strengthen its Law Enforcement Agencies both in terms of capacity and equipment.

Pakistan, he said, hoped for continued support in this regard from the international community and friends like UK to upgrade security surveillance and preempt intentions of militants.

The Prime Minister said that the three Ds policy and the strategy adopted thereafter had greatly helped in confronting militancy in Malakand and the bordering tribal areas.

The operations and dialogue process, he said, has to be followed immediately through the process of consolidation and reconstruction.

Because of its limited resources and economic compulsions, Pakistan cannot undertake this huge task alone, he said, and added that the government also has to focus simultaneously on backward areas of the country where the less educated and un-employed youth remained vulnerable to extremist ideology.

He urged the UK to fast track its cooperation for improving the education facilities particularly in these areas, through the platform of Pakistan-UK Education Task Force.

On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan has always been striving for stable and peaceful Afghanistan.Pakistan, he said, supports the reconciliation process initiated by President Karzai and has also offered to train Afghan Police and Army to help improve the security situation in the country.

Stability in Afghanistan, he said, can bring about economic change and prosperity in the entire region. The situation in this region, the Prime Minister said could greatly improve provided the cross border movement particularly of Afghan refugees could be checked.

This problem directly relates to over 3.5 million Afghan refugees, forgotten by the world, living in Pakistan mostly in the bordering areas.

The placement of Allama Iqbal’s name plate at the birthplace of Shakespeare, the Prime Minister said, would serve as a good gesture to promote cultural links between the two countries.

Prime Minister Gilani also mentioned about visa problems being faced by Pakistani students and businessmen intending to travel to UK.

The British High Commissioner said that relations between UK and Pakistan extend beyond cooperation in war against terrorism and the engagements are likely to increase in the forthcoming period.

He assured the Prime Minister that the existing cooperation in social sectors particularly in educational fields would be further enhanced through the task force established for the purpose.

Pakistan’s success in fight against terrorism, he said, matters a lot for the entire peace loving world.

The human and economic sacrifices made by Pakistan, he said have been internationally recognized. He expressed his condolences for the families who lost their dear ones in this struggle.

The British High Commissioner apprised the Prime Minister of EU’s plan for preparing a five year road map for deeper cooperation in various sector for the future relationship.

The forth coming Pakistan-EU Summit in April, he said would help in laying down the foundation for greater EU-Pakistan cooperation.

About the political dimensions of Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan is an important component of the process.

He agreed that stability in Afghanistan would help establish peace and prosperity in the region. The Jirga taking place next month, he said could be helpful for strengthening the reconciliation efforts initiated by the Afghan President.

The High Commissioner appreciated the idea of establishing Pakistan-UK foundation which would help in building economic and cultural links between Pakistani community and people of Pakistan.

On the visas issue, he said that the new system and process introduced is not specific to Pakistan.

He, however, assured the Prime Minister that the process would be made more efficient in response to difficulties being faced by Pakistani nationals intending to visit UK.