Mr Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, visited London on 18-20 April to take forward the UK-Pakistan Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD). The dialogue is a valuable mechanism for Pakistan and the UK to reaffirm their commitment to a strong partnership to increase prosperity, development and security in both countries. This collaboration is underpinned by strong diaspora links, historical and cultural ties, and confidence in Pakistan continuing to develop as a prosperous, secure and stable friend of the UK.
Mr Aziz met Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening, Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Mark Price, National Security Adviser Mark Lyall Grant and British Council Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Devane. The two sides reviewed progress made under the ESD on trade, development, culture and security. They agreed new roadmaps on trade and investment, culture and education, and security cooperation. Progress against the roadmaps would be reviewed by Ministers annually and next in 2017.
Trade and Investment
Both partners welcomed the steady increase in bilateral trade. Acknowledging the considerable potential for continued growth, both sides agreed to make further progress in meeting and exceeding the bilateral trade target of £3 billion. Highlights of the economic partnership included the opening of British Business Centres in Lahore and Karachi, annual UK-Pakistan business summits and the appointment of UK-Pakistan trade champions. To boost trade and investment, the two countries will work together to further improve the business climate, raise awareness of business opportunities, share expertise and enhance business-to-business contacts. Both sides agreed to establish a joint Pakistan-UK Business Council comprising leading businessmen to be nominated by their respective governments.
The UK bilateral development programme for Pakistan works to support the country in realising its potential and meeting the aspirations of its fast-growing population. Since 2011, UK support has helped more than 6.8 million primary school children get an education, ensured that nearly a million mothers had medical assistance during childbirth and supported 1.54 million people to establish small businesses.
Cultural and Education Cooperation
Under the cultural and education roadmap the UK and Pakistan will expand the opportunities for young British and Pakistani people to connect, collaborate and create a friendly understanding. Working with federal and provincial government partners across all of Pakistan, British Council will strengthen links and partnerships between the education systems of the two countries to support system reform and share best practice; continue to enable over 250,000 people to take UK qualifications in Pakistan each year, and train a third of a million Pakistani teachers and educators to improve the quality of teaching and use of English in the classroom by 2018. British Council will expand opportunities for collaboration in the arts, digital and research; developing partnerships between both countries to support heritage, museums and the creative industries. By 2017 100,000 young people will develop new skills through social enterprise initiatives, and 200,000 out of school young children will be supported to go to school. Ministers agreed the establishment of a new UK-Pakistan cultural forum.
Faced with the common threat of terrorism, the UK and Pakistan will continue to cooperate to ensure the safety of citizens in both countries. They will work to counter extremism and learn from each other in this area. Cooperation to limit organized crime and illegal migration will also continue.
Over the past year, the ESD has continued to demonstrate the depth, breadth and strength of UK-Pakistan cooperation. It has played a valuable role in framing an ongoing, wide-ranging and candid conversation between the two countries on the issues that matter most. Throughout the visit, Mr Aziz and his hosts reiterated their commitment to a long-term partnership covering all areas of common interest.