Islamabad: Ms. Theresa May, UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, today called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
She was accompanied by High UK Commissioner Adam Thomson, Fiona Cunningham, Special Advisor to Home Secretary, Charles Farr, Director Office of Security and Counter Terrorism and other officials.
Senator A. Rehman Malik, Federal Minister for Interior, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Ms. Farahnaz Ispahani, MNA, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar and other officials were also present during the meeting from Pakistan side.
Briefing about the meeting, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that a wide spectrum of Pak-UK bilateral relations including trade, Enhanced Strategic Dialogue, war against militancy and Pak diaspora in UK, was discussed during the meeting.
The President said that Pakistan desired to further enhance Pak-UK relationship based on mutuality of respect, trust and interest. He said that Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between the two countries had facilitated structured interaction and called for vigorously pursuing all the five strands of ESD to intensify mutual partnership.
He said that the economic content of Pak-UK relationship was of fundamental importance and called for giving it focused attention. He said that Pakistan has suffered heavily both in terms of human as well as economic terms in the struggle against militancy. The President said that military aspect was one part of the overall strategy to permanently defeat forces that bred militant mindset.
Other equally important components were to address those fundamental causes that contributed to inculcating a sense of deprivation and extremist proclivities. We need to provide economic opportunities to the people especially to the youth of the militancy-hit areas so that they are effectively weaned away from falling into the trap of the militant elements.
The President said that the West especially our friends such as UK could help the country in securing greater market access and attracting more investments in the country. With more trade and economic activities, we can create a win-win situation, the President emphasized. He said that Pakistan greatly appreciates UK’s support for Pakistan within European Union in this context.
The President said that Pakistan was looking forward to negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. He expressed the hope that UK’s support would help the country to qualify for the revised GSP Plus scheme. Such arrangement, the President said, would help Pakistan to increase its exports, generate thousands of jobs and move towards economic stability necessary for combating militancy.
The President also appreciated British assistance of £650 million for the primary education terming it a timely initiative to help the country in the education sector.
On regional situation, the President said that Pakistan stands for peace in the region and has always supported every effort in this regard. He said that drug trafficking, as the source of militancy funding, was one of the major issue in the region and needed to be curbed.
The President said that Pakistan has always desired a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan has abiding interest in the peaceful, stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan and will continue to support every effort of international community in this regard.
Ms. Theresa May appreciated Pakistan’s contributions and the great sacrifices made in the war against militants. She said that UK Government would continue to support Pakistani people in their fight against militancy.
She also appreciated various measures taken by the present government for real empowerment of the women including the Benazir Income Support Program and recently passed Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill.
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