Announcement

Forthcoming elections will be a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history

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

The UK Foreign Secretary, Mr William Hague this afternoon held a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Khar at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The press conference followed a separate meeting between the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Minister and preceded a working lunch between them and their colleagues. Their discussions covered the UK-Pakistan Enhanced Strategic Dialogue, Pakistan’s trade engagement with Europe, and regional security issues.

Earlier this morning, Mr Hague met Prime Minister Gilani and is due to meet this afternoon with President Zardari and also Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh.

In his opening remarks, Mr Hague said:

“Britain is committed to an enduring relationship with Pakistan, built on mutual trust, mutual respect and on our many shared interests. We value our partnership with Pakistan with its many distinctive characteristics, including the close personal connections between our citizens, in particular the millions citizens in Britain with their origins in Pakistan in particular the millions citizens in Britain with their origins in Pakistan, our crucial partnership against terrorism and our important trade ties we wish to expand. And we are of course an unswerving supporter of Pakistan’s development and its democratic future.”

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Mr Hague highlighted the importance of the upcoming elections:

“My visit here has confirmed to me what an important time this is for your country. The coming elections will be a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history: the first time one civilian government will succeed another one at an election. A strong, stable, constitutional democracy is firmly in Pakistan’s interests and will be welcomed by all Pakistan’s friends, including the United Kingdom and across all parties in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Hague also spoke of the strength of UK-Pakistan relations:

“The UK can confidently and proudly call itself a friend of Pakistan. Our friendship will endure. It is sometimes said that Pakistan is misunderstood in many parts of the world. As a friend of Pakistan, I want to urge a greater understanding of Pakistan and the challenges your country faces, including the fact that Pakistan has suffered more than any other country from terrorism. A prosperous and stable Pakistan is of course in Pakistan’s interests, and in the interest of the region and beyond, and Britain will be a strong friend and partner as your country builds a secure future.”

The full text of Mr Hague’s opening remarks at the press conference:

It is a huge pleasure to be here in Islamabad, and to continue the excellent work of recent months. With the Foreign Minister, this is the third time in four or five months to have substantial discussions, It means we understand each other foreign policy positions extremely well, we agree on many things, we are able to go into things in the necessary detail and so I strongly welcome the opportunity to do so again today. We very warmly welcomed the Prime Minister of Pakistan to London a few weeks ago. I think it was a very successful visit and indeed added to the strengths of our ties in trade and investment and the plans we have to boost trade so significantly by 2015. Our cultural ties were also reinforced by that visit. So we were grateful on that occasion and I am grateful today for the excellent discussions we have had.

Britain is committed to an enduring relationship with Pakistan, built on mutual trust, mutual respect and on our many shared interests. We value our partnership with Pakistan with its many distinctive characteristics, including the close personal connections between our citizens, in particular the millions citizens in Britain with their origins in Pakistan, our crucial partnership against terrorism and our important trade ties we wish to expand. And we are of course an unswerving supporter of Pakistan’s development and its democratic future.

I’m grateful to the Minister for pointing out what we have done particularly on improving market access to the European Union. There has been no more eloquent advocate of that than our Prime Minister in the internal deliberations of the EU. We count ourselves as Pakistan’s strongest friend in those councils in the European Union. We also give strong support on a large scale to education in Pakistan as the Minister has said.

Our discussions today have covered the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between our countries, Pakistan’s trade relationship with Europe, regional security issues including the future of Afghanistan.

_My visit here has confirmed to me what an important time this is for your country. The coming elections will be a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history: the first time one civilian government will succeed another one at an election. A strong, stable, constitutional democracy is firmly in Pakistan’s interests and will be welcomed by all Pakistan’s friends, including the United Kingdom and across all parties in the United Kingdom. _

I am delighted that the government here has made such a strong public commitment on those elections. As Prime Minister Gilani said following his meeting with our Prime Minister David Cameron, his Government is committed to holding free and fair elections in accordance with the constitution. I hope all political parties in Pakistan will be committed to playing their part in that. We look forward as your friends to witnessing elections that are not only credible and acceptable to the Pakistani people but also that important milestone in the democracy of Pakistan.

On economic matters, the recent budget of course highlights the challenges Pakistan faces. We all face economic challenges. The global economic crisis is requiring countries around the world to make tough decisions. That applies of course here in Pakistan as well. However much the international community may wish to support Pakistan’s future development which we do, the strength of that support in coming year will of course partly depend on evidence that the right policy environment is in place.

I know, Foreign Minister, you have done a huge amount to increase understanding of the foreign policy of Pakistan, actively setting out the distinctive contribution Pakistan can make on all the collective challenges we face. You can be assured that you have our support in doing that. It has been useful to discuss global issues and other issues we face together on the United Nations Security Council, particularly the terrible bloodshed in Syria which we have been discussing.

_The UK can confidently and proudly call itself a friend of Pakistan. Our friendship will endure. It is sometimes said that Pakistan is misunderstood in many parts of the world. As a friend of Pakistan, I want to urge a greater understanding of Pakistan and the challenges your country faces, including the fact that Pakistan has suffered more than any other country from terrorism. A prosperous and stable Pakistan is of course in Pakistan’s interests, and in the interest of the region and beyond, and Britain will be a strong friend and partner as your country builds a secure future.”
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