Thursday, 10 May 2012 20:50
LONDON: The United Kingdom Thursday vowed to build on a deeper and stronger relationship with Pakistan saying its future matters greatly to Britain and agreed on building up ties in trade, defence, health and education sectors.
Prime Minister David Cameron after a meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani categorically stated that the United Kingdom will be an enduring friend to the government and people of Pakistan.
"Both countries are committed to working together as equals to create the conditions for greater prosperity and security in Pakistan and the UK," a joint statement issued at the end of the talks said.
Gilani and Cameron discussed trade, economic growth and development, cultural co-operation, security and education here at the 10 Downing and reviewed the progress being made since the two leaders made the commitment in April 2011 in Islamabad for a deeper and broader dialogue between the two countries.
The dialogue is aimed at strengthening friendship and promoting mutual prosperity and security.
The two leaders also took into account the global economic crisis and agreed that it requires both the countries to make tough decisions to deliver future growth and prosperity. It was also agreed to have a regular dialogue between the governments on economic reform.
Gilani and David Cameron also discussed the shared national security challenges and the cooperation in counter-terrorism. They reviewed the outcome of the meeting of the Joint Working Group which met in October and the National Security Discussions between the civilian and military experts in this regard.
Prime Minister Cameron acknowledged the huge sacrifices by the people of Pakistan and said the UK stands along Pakistan, as a partner against the menace of militancy, terrorism and extremism.
Gilani said the UK and Pakistan enjoy unique people-to-people links with over one million British citizens with close family ties to Pakistan.
Gilani said Pakistan and the UK are bound together by longstanding ties based on shared history, values and rich people-to-people links.
A Joint statement issued after the First Annual Summit of the UK-Pakistan Enhanced Strategic Dialogue noted that since its launch in 2011 the dialogue between the UK and Pakistan has become deeper and broader.
The two Prime Ministers reviewed the practical co-operation on shared interests which has intensified across the five areas covered under dialogue; including trade, economic growth and development, cultural co-operation, security and education.
Gilani and Cameron also launched a Trade and Investment Roadmap, setting out the steps both governments will take to promote investment, support business and achieve the target of increasing bilateral trade to 2.5 billion by 2015.
Both Prime Ministers urged UK companies to look at the opportunities the Pakistan market presents and build on the success of the over 100 UK-based companies already doing business in Pakistan.
Gilani pledged his government's full support in ensuring an enabling business environment to attract and sustain UK trade with, and investment in, Pakistan.
Gilani also expressed appreciation for the UK's consistent support to Pakistan for enhanced market access to the European Union. He hoped that the UK would continue to support Pakistan's request for GSP+ and early finalization of Autonomous Trade Preferences package.
Cameron assured UK's continued support in this regard, and also encouraged Pakistani businesses to look at the opportunities the UK offers and its role as a gateway to Europe.
Under the Economics and Development field, the two Prime Ministers noted that the global economic crisis requires both countries to make tough decisions in order to deliver future growth and prosperity.
They agreed to continue regular dialogue between their governments on economic reform recognizing that economic stability and setting the conditions for enduring growth are key priorities to ensure prosperity for future generations.
Both Prime Ministers agreed to a continued close partnership to help lift millions of people out of poverty and build a stable, prosperous and democratic future for Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani reiterated his personal commitment to improving the quality of education in Pakistan and welcomed UK support in this regard.
Prime Minister Cameron reaffirmed that the UK was open for genuine migrants who are coming to the UK to do a legitimate job or study at a genuine institution. Both Prime Ministers committed to preventing illegal migration as it harms people both in Pakistan and the UK.
They agreed to continue to work closely under existing agreements on returning to Pakistan individuals who have no legal right to remain in the UK.
On security and defence, both Pakistan and the UK evinced an unwavering commitment to work together to combat the menace of terrorism and extremism which threatens the people of both countries.
Prime Minister Cameron recognized the huge sacrifices being made by the people of Pakistan. Both Prime Ministers committed to enhance the already strong co-operation on countering improvised explosive devices, which cause so many of the needless deaths in Pakistan.
During the meeting at the 10 Downing the two Prime Ministers held in-depth discussions on regional and international issues of mutual interest. They underscored the importance of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.
They discussed the remaining challenges and agreed to continue working closely on Afghanistan. Prime Minister Gilani briefed Prime Minister Cameron on the recommendations approved by the Parliament regarding reengagement with the US and also briefed him on the ongoing Pakistan-India Peace process.
Cameron pledged his support for a return to international cricket being played in Pakistan and offered to share the UK's experience in protecting large sporting events. The visiting delegation was briefed on the UK's preparations for the Olympics on a tour of the UK's Crisis Response Centre, the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR).
On democracy the joint statement noted it an important time for Pakistan and the current government was the longest serving civilian government in Pakistan's history.
Gilani stated that his Government was committed to holding free and fair elections in accordance with the constitution.
Regarding cultural co-operation the two sides noted the uniquely rich people-to-people links and growing cultural exchange.
British Pakistanis continue to make a positive and active contribution to life in the UK. As part of celebrating the connections between the two countries the Prime Ministers welcomed the Cultural Roadmap that would further intensify the vibrant links between school children, students, young professionals, cultural institutions and higher education sectors.
The two sides noted that the close personal connections between the citizens of the two countries were just one of the many distinctive characteristics in UK - Pakistan relations.
Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2012