LONDON - The two friendly prime ministers, David Cameron and Nawaz Sharif, who met here at the 10 Downing Street expressed complete understanding on all issues of common interest and their resolve to meet all the challenges – including combating the menace of terrorism being faced by the two Commonwealth partners.
Mr Cameron received his visiting counterpart in front of his office and while shaking hands with Premier Nawaz Sharif he mentioned the excellent weather by raising his finger to the sky. Remaining members of the delegation, including Chief Ministers Shahbaz Sharif of Punjab and Dr Abdul Malik Baloch of Balochistan, followed the two prime ministers as they walked inside the main door of PM Cameron’s office.
At 10 Downing, David Cameron hosted a working luncheon in honour of the Pakistani delegation after which he held a one-on-one meeting with his counterpart. One the sidelines, National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi held a meeting with their counterparts. A joint communiqué was issued at the end of today’s interaction between the two prime minister and their colleagues at different levels.
The two leaders reaffirmed strong bonds of friendship and partnership between Pakistan and the UK. They emphasised their commitment to support the UK-Pakistan relationship by agreeing to open a new British Deputy High Commission in Lahore that would facilitate a large number of people living in remote areas of central and southern parts of the country.
The two leaders were of the view that Britain and Pakistan enjoyed a long history of working closely and effectively together as members of the Commonwealth. The large population of Pakistani origin has made a significant contribution to British cultural and economic life. They pledged that both countries were committed to broadening their relations across many areas.
The joint statement said that Prime Minister Sharif also held comprehensive discussions with UK ministers about security and stability in Pakistan and the wider South Asia region. They agreed to the importance of supporting the new Afghan government and developing closer cooperation with the new government in India.
Both governments also reaffirmed their commitment to working in partnership to counter the shared threats from terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration, and to support Pakistan’s new National Internal Security Policy. On support to a secure and stable Pakistan, both sides agreed to continue counter-terrorism training and support, including aviation security, building on our existing counter-IED programme, and increasing security cooperation at customs.
This was PM Sharif’s first official bilateral visit to the UK since Pakistan’s landmark elections in May 2013. He will be also meeting the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development, and deliver a keynote address at the Pakistan Investment Conference.
PM Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan had suffered a lot due to terrorism and extremism, and tackling it was part of his government’s national policy. He appreciated the continued support and assistance by the DFID UK to the country and said the people of Pakistan are grateful for the support.
PM Cameron, who had warmly welcomed PM Nawaz, reiterated UK’s all-out support to Pakistan in its pursuit to strengthen economy and achieving socio-economic development. He also backed Pakistani government’s efforts in combating terrorism and extremism.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the current level of bilateral ties in various areas, including trade and economy, and renewed their commitment to further strengthen these relations. The two leaders discussed how to further the trade and investment links between the two countries and renewed their commitment to increase bilateral trade to £3 billion by 2015.
A revised Trade and Investment Roadmap sets out new cooperation course. On specific new initiatives, UK company Asian Precious Minerals has announced a new project with over £100m of investment in Pakistan. The UK also supports the growing dialogue between Pakistan and UK investors highlighted by a roundtable meeting with Prime Minister Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar hosted by Peter Sands, Global CEO of Standard Chartered Bank. PM Sharif was also guest of honour at a trade and investment-focussed conference attended by over 100 delegates.
The UK welcomes signs of growth in Pakistan’s economy as a result in achieving GSP+ trading agreement status with the EU: GSP+ status is dependent on a number of measures including human rights conditions, which are monitored by scorecard. The UK will provide Pakistan with further advice and support on effective monitoring.
The visit also marks the launch of a UK-Pakistan cultural and education cooperation ‘roadmap’ which sets out the basis of cultural engagement between the two countries, enables collaboration on a calendar of cultural engagement for the next 3 years, and builds on elements of the strong existing UK-Pakistan relationship on education.
In partnership with UK providers, the roadmap includes the British Council’s commitment to train 1 million teachers of English over the next 4 years in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to help enhance the quality of English language teaching in Pakistan. A new Memorandum of Understanding on the status of the British Council in Pakistan maps out a range of joint activities around the British Council’s work there, including English language learning, arts and the creative industries. The roadmap also highlights work through the Department for International Development to support delivery of primary and secondary education in Pakistan, which by 2015 aims to benefit 4 million more children in school and train 90,000 teachers per year.
The UK welcomed the priority the Nawaz government has given to education, including the recent commitment to increase education spending to 4% of GDP. Both governments noted recent progress on education in Punjab and the re-launch of UK’s education partnership in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which will benefit all primary and lower secondary schoolchildren in the province. Both sides also welcomed the partnership between the UK and Punjab government to provide vocational training to 135,000 people living in poverty, 40% of them women.
Pakistan agreed to the importance of honouring the shared history and WW-I sacrifices made by the soldiers from the areas now called Pakistan, and as part of this, committed to a memorial copse in Islamabad to mark the fallen.
The UK and Pakistan welcomed indicators of an upturn in economic activity and agreed on the importance of improved conditions in Pakistan to foster economic stability, inclusive growth and prosperity. They agreed to work together to support Pakistan’s implementation of critical economic reforms, particularly to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio towards 15% and welcomed the developing relationship between the Federal Board of Revenue and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to support this.
The two governments welcomed the launch of UK support to help improve the business environment and increase domestic and international investment in small and growing businesses in Pakistan. This aims to create up to £400 million in additional economic production, and generate up to 400,000 jobs, half of which will be for women and young people. They also agreed on the importance of effective regional cooperation for stability and growth. Both sides agreed to work to improve Pakistan’s trade competitiveness, particularly in reducing trade barriers between Pakistan and its neighbours.
The two sides also agreed to exchange expertise and business dialogue on energy. They also welcomed the Punjab government’s new approach to delivering health reforms, supported by the Department for International Development, which aims to improve basic primary healthcare service across the province, including increasing immunisation coverage and reducing maternal and child deaths.