Britain and Pakistan: an unbreakable partnership

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Foreign Secretary William Hague and Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar discussed trade, economic growth and development, cultural co-operation, security and education when they met in London today.

Text of Joint UK-Pakistan statement:

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar and British Foreign Secretary William Hague today took forward the enhanced strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the UK that underpins the unbreakable partnership between both countries. They discussed the progress being made against the commitment of Prime Minister Gilani and Prime Minister Cameron in April 2011 to grow a deeper and broader dialogue between our two countries, which strengthens our friendship and promotes mutual prosperity and security.

Pakistan and the UK are bound together by a longstanding ties based on our shared history, values and enormously rich people-to-people links. This enhanced dialogue is intensifying co-operation on shared interests including trade, economic growth and development, cultural co-operation, security and education.

At today’s meeting, Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague discussed progress under the five priority areas of the enhanced strategy dialogue.

  • On trade, they welcomed the progress made towards achieving the target of increasing bilateral trade to £2.5 billion by 2015. Trade now stood at £1.9 billion. UK Trade Minister Lord Green’s recent visit had highlighted the opportunities in retail, energy and mining sectors. Foreign Secretary Hague pledged to continue to advocate for Pakistan to gain enhanced trade access to the EU through GSP+. Foreign Minister Khar acknowledged the UK’s support in achieving the WTO tariff waiver for Pakistan.
  • Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague agreed that economic growth and poverty reduction in Pakistan were key priorities to ensure prosperity for future generations. The global economic crisis requires both countries to make tough decisions in order to deliver future growth and prosperity. They agreed to a regular dialogue between their governments on economic reform.
  • Ensuring that all children in Pakistan have the opportunity to receive free, quality education is a shared priority. Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague welcomed the adoption of the National Declaration on Education committing all stakeholders to undertake necessary steps to develop education roadmaps and tackling under-nutrition. Foreign Secretary Hague reported that in the last 12 months UKAid had doubled the number of children the UK is supporting in schools to over 330,000.
  • On security, Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague noted the work being undertaken on their shared national security challenges, including on counter-terrorism through the Joint Working Group which met in October and the National Security Discussions which brings together civilian and military experts to address the common challenges both countries face. Foreign Secretary Hague reaffirmed that the UK stands alongside Pakistan, as a partner against the menace of militancy, terrorism and extremism, and acknowledged the huge sacrifices ordinary people in Pakistan were making.
  • The UK and Pakistan enjoy uniquely rich people-to-people links. Over one million British citizens have close family ties to Pakistan. Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague welcomed the contribution made by the British Pakistani community to the UK and to enhancing the relationship between the UK and Pakistan. They particularly welcomed the growing culture exchange between our museums and in academia. Seventeen new partnership agreements were signed in 2011 between universities in the UK and Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Khar and Foreign Secretary Hague agreed to meet every six months to drive forward progress. The enhanced strategic dialogue represents a long-term, deep commitment by both countries to work together as equals and to create the conditions for greater security and prosperity in Pakistan and in the UK. Our enduring partnership is one that has been forged by history and will only become more important and vital in the future.