Islamabad, March 19, 2014 (PPI-OT): The 14th round of Pakistan – UK Defence Cooperation Forum (DCF) was held in the Ministry of Defence in London from 17-18 March 2014. The Pakistan delegation was led by Secretary Defence Lt Gen (Retd) Asif Yasin Malik. The UK side was headed by Permanent Under Secretary for Defence Mr. Jon Thompson. The DCF began with a meeting between Lt Gen (Retd) Malik and PUS Mr. Thompson. They discussed the bilateral relationship and the existing level of defence cooperation between Pakistan and the UK.
Both sides agreed that defence cooperation between the two countries was necessary in view of the beginning of withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan later this year, which could have its fallout on the security situation in the region. The post-Nato withdrawal scenario in Afghanistan and its implications for the region were discussed in detail.
Lt Gen (retd) Malik stressed that Pakistan believed in a peace process that was Afghan led and owned which would lead to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan. He also emphasised the need for the international community including UK to remain engaged with Afghanistan for the long term. It was agreed that a regional non interference policy should be pursued in Afghanistan.
It was noted with satisfaction that Pakistan-UK relations were traditionally strong and cordial and that the regular exchange of high level visits including the DCF provided the desired impetus to further strengthen the bilateral relations. The meeting provided a useful opportunity to review a host of bilateral and regional issues of common interest. The two sides reviewed the progress made since the last DCF and discussed at length the areas where bilateral defence cooperation could be further enhanced.
During his stay in London, Secretary Defence also called on British Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton and members of the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence. Secretary Defence also gave a talk at the International Institute of Strategic Studies on ‘Pakistan’s Defence and Security: Challenges and Opportunities’. The delegation comprised members from the tri-services in addition to representatives from the Ministry of Defence Production.
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