ISLAMABAD Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari Monday emphasised the need for enhancing partnership between Pakistan and Britain in trade, investment, education and other fields with a view to counter militancy and terrorism.
In their separate meetings with a British delegation led by Alstair Burt, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, the two leaders discussed matters relating to Pak-UK bilateral cooperation, strategic dialogue, fight against militancy, trade and economic cooperation and regional issues with the delegation. Talking to Alstair Burt MP and Simson Fraser, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Permanent Under-Secretary, who called on the prime minister at the PMs House, Gilani expressed his satisfaction that the enhanced strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the UK has been launched. He nevertheless called for early progress in the agreed fields under the dialogue framework through institutionalisation of cooperation by utilising the existing fora of bilateral consultation. The prime minister noted with appreciation British assistance to Pakistan in the wake of earthquake of 2005 and last years floods as well as for the rehabilitation of IDPs of Malakand and Swat. He also expressed his governments gratitude for the UKs enhanced economic assistance to Pakistan particularly for its education sector that would enable his government to arrange schooling for another four million children. Alstair Burt MP, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, assured the prime minister of his governments determination to build upon and expand bilateral relations in trade, economic, defence, education, health and cultural fields as well as to advocate Pakistans causes in the European Union.
He stated that the UK had always been appreciative of Pakistans crucial role and had full recognition of its un-matched human and economic sacrifices in the war against terror. The UK was also sensitive towards the sentiments of the people in Pakistan in the aftermath of Osama bin Ladens killing, he added. He assured the prime minister that the UK would continue using its influence with the allied countries on the imperative of positive messaging about Pakistan at this critical moment.
While acknowledging the fact that the success in war against terror and restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan could not be achieved without Pakistans pivotal role, he said the UK would steadfastly stand by Pakistan and build consensus among the allies for extending complete support to Pakistan in the war against terror.
Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Senator Sughra Imam, the secretaries of foreign affairs, defence, interior and other senior officers were also present in the meeting.
President Asif Ali Zardari in his meeting with the British delegation emphasised on trade to create job opportunities for the youth and said that 65 per cent of the countrys population comprised of youth who looked for jobs and opportunities which had been destroyed by the war on militancy, adding that a jobless youth is most likely to join the ranks of extremists. The president said that he was asking the world community for helping Pakistan recover its shattered economy through opportunities for greater trade and market access and not just aid.
Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the president told the delegation that Britain and Pakistan needed to work closely to further enhance their partnership in diverse areas to eliminate militancy and terrorism from Pakistan and promote peace and security in the region and the world.