LAHORE – United Kingdom not only sees smooth transition of power in Pakistan after the coming elections, which it believes would be fair and held on time, it also does not expect any major change in country’s foreign policy with the change of guards, if any.
“I am confident that elections in Pakistan would be held on time, and there seems no danger of military intervention at any stage during the transition period”, said UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, Adam Thomson in his conversation with a group of journalists, the other day.
Thomson sees major challenges awaiting the next government here regarding the war on terror and the economic reforms, for which, the new rulers in Islamabad would have to take some tough decisions in the initial few months.
Besides, the embedding of democracy is another challenge requiring attention of the new government, he added.
Thomson, who seemed to have a fairly positively outlook on Pakistan, believed that all major political parties here had the same view of country’s foreign policy.
In this context, he showed no signs of worry for UK or other European countries about a possible change of guards as a result of the coming polls. The UK High Commissioner, however, seemed much concerned about Pakistan’s economic situation.
“The UK is worried about next government’s capability to do the much needed economic reforms”, he said, adding, that his country was looking at enhancing volume of trade with Pakistan to help boost country’s economy once the new set up is in place.
“The new government will have golden opportunity to take bold and difficult decisions about structural economic reforms and tackling corruption. For us, it would be time to encourage trade and investment here”, he remarked.
“Another challenge for the next government would be the embedding of democracy so that it becomes increasingly accountable and at the service of its citizens”, he stated.
On Afghanistan and the war on terror, Adam supported political solution to the problem, stating that military solution had not worked. He also affirmed that next government in Pakistan would face a real challenge on the war on terror and would have to take some tough decisions in the very beginning.
“Pakistan should have a key role in the formation of future govt in Afghanistan and this should start even before the withdrawal of coalition forces”, he asserted.
Thomson also gave an overview of his government’s initiative aiming at increasing school enrolment in Punjab. He informed journalists that out of total 17 million children who are out of school in Pakistan, 3 million were in Punjab. Of these, one million have been enrolled in the past 18 months, he added.
In KPK, the British government is assisting the provincial government to train teachers at the primary level. A lesson plan for teachers has been devised to improve quality of education, he said.
Thomson also made mention of a monitoring and evaluation system which has been put in place to assess the impact of this initiative.