During his two-day visit to Pakistan, the Foreign Secretary William Hague met members of the new Pakistani Government, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Interior Minister Chaudary Nisar. The Foreign Secretary also met parliamentarians, representatives of the Pakistani business community and civil society members.
The Foreign Secretary underlined the UK’s commitment to a deep, lasting relationship with Pakistan and discussed prosperity, security and the importance of our unique connections. The Foreign Secretary’s visit followed last month’s visit by Prime Minister David Cameron, during which a new £3 billion bilateral trade target for 2015 was announced.
The Foreign Secretary met senior business representatives and entrepreneurs at an event in Lahore hosted by the Chief Minister for Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. He heard about the companies’ successes of investing in Pakistan and future opportunities to expand in the country. The Foreign Secretary stressed the importance that the UK Government places on building ever-stronger trading links with Pakistan.
The Foreign Secretary later visited a world-class mobile forensics laboratory in Lahore. The laboratory is one of 18 operated by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA). The UK’s mentoring and cooperation with the PFSA is a prime example of the practical steps being taken by the UK in Pakistan to strengthen forensic capability to help increase the rate of successful terrorist prosecutions.
With a focus on cultural cooperation between the two countries, the Foreign Secretary visited the British Council Offices in Lahore and announced plans to reopen the British Council Library in Lahore in 2014. Reopening the Library in the capital of Punjab will provide much needed access to books and other online resources.
The Foreign Secretary also marked the 30th anniversary of the British Chevening Scholarship programme, meeting 19 Pakistani nationals who have been awarded scholarships to study in Britain. Operating since 1983, the Chevening programme has sent over 1,200 Pakistanis to study in the UK.
Following his meetings, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
It is my pleasure to visit Pakistan again. Since my last visit in 2012, the world has watched the people of Pakistan come together to demonstrate a commitment to democracy. The first democratic transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another was impressive and I congratulate the people of Pakistan.
The UK remains strongly committed to working closely with Pakistan on our many areas of shared interest. Intensive, practical cooperation will capitalise on the growing, joint opportunities on trade, investment, energy and cultural spheres. I look forward to continuing the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue which underscores this unbreakable friendship.
Trade is an important part of our relationship and what I have seen and heard today demonstrates this. The UK has recently announced our intention to increase bilateral trade to £3 billion by 2015, a step that will help build our trade links even more. I’m very pleased that over 100 British companies are operating successfully in Pakistan and I hope many more will follow them.
Looking to the next generation, the UK and Pakistan will continue to work together to help Pakistan’s people fulfil their potential. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stated his own ambitions to improve the quality of education in Pakistan. The UK will continue to play a leading role to support Pakistan in these endeavours.
The UK looks forward to building further on its deep friendship with Pakistan. It is a relationship that will long endure. I believe that our friendship is stronger today than ever.
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