New British High Commissioner says "it is great to be back" in Pakistan

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew CMG, spoke to a media reception that he hosted at his residence at the British High Commission in Islamabad. Following is the full text of his speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming. This is not really a press conference or a big policy speech. What I really want to do is to say thank you for welcoming me to Pakistan – and to meet as many you as possible who work closely with my press team here.

I will, though, take the opportunity to say a couple of things. I have now been here three months; and I presented my credentials as High Commissioner to the President three weeks ago. It is great to be back. On a personal level , I have being enjoying being out and about rediscovering the things that I so liked about Pakistan when I served here as Political Counsellor 10 years ago.

  • From the freshness and beauty of the Margalla Hills to the history of Peshawar Old City, the cultural vibe of Lahore or the commercial buzz of Karachi;
  • To the food – which I am determined to use my time here to learn how to cook
  • To, finally and most importantly, seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

But on a professional level too, this is a fabulous place for a British diplomat. Most importantly, because what we do matters – for the UK and Pakistan. Secondly – and this makes things easier – because our interests are aligned: what is good for Pakistan is good for the UK and vice versa. And thirdly because working together, we can actually make a difference. I am lucky enough too to have the resources to support it. It is a mark of our commitment that the British mission to Pakistan is our second largest in the world; our bilateral development programme here is our biggest anywhere in the world; and there is huge interest and support for the country at the highest levels of our government.

My job here is to make sure I use my privileged position here to good effect – for our mutual security, for regional stability, and to help promote the economic and political development of the country in a way which enhances the prosperity and well being of both our countries. The most exciting part of my challenge is helping Pakistan unleash its potential.

And 3 months in, I am even more convinced that that potential is huge. You just need to look at the map, or at the young and growing population. It is easy to forget that Pakistan is the 6th largest country in the world. But there is also a lot to do to make the most of that potential. And that is what we would like to do. Because it is good for Pakistan. But because it is good for us too.

A final word on another important part of my job. People to people links are important to all countries. But there really is something special about those between the UK and Pakistan. It is partly about our history. But now it is also about that more than 2% of the population of the UK are of Pakistani origin. And nothing demonstrates that better than our new mayor of London. Sadiq Khan, the Muslim son of bus driver whose parents were born in Karachi, received more individual votes than any other Briton in the UK’s history. But he is joined by successful sportsmen and women, entertainers, journalist, businessmen and many more. Building further on the links that bind us will be another big part of my job.

In short, it is great to be back. Thank you.

Published 26 May 2016