London, February 20, 2015 (PPI-OT): H.E. Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK delivered a talk at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Pakistan covering its challenges and opportunities as well as its foreign policy dynamics, on 17 February 2015.
In his talk, the High Commissioner highlighted geo-political and geo-strategic position of Pakistan and the role it can play for peace and stability of the region. He also mentioned Pakistan’s potential for becoming a destination for investment and business from across the world due to its skilled and cheap labour force highlighting the fact that 50% population of the country was under the age of 25 years.
He specifically mentioned about the opportunities to arise from the planned Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. The High Commissioner said that Pakistan’s foreign policy remained security driven due to external factors from the very outset. However, he clarified that Pakistan continues to follow an independent foreign policy and does not believe in developing relations with one country at the cost of its relations with other.
Speaking about the challenges, the High Commissioner termed terrorism and extremism the biggest challenge but said that the government was taking on the problem with full commitment and that the political as well as military leadership was in sync. He also mentioned the successes achieved during the ongoing military operation Zarb e Azb and expressed confidence that the operation would continue till the elimination of terrorism and extremism from Pakistan.
Responding to a question regarding Pakistan’s relations with India, the High Commissioner said Pakistan wanted good neighbourly relations with India but the issue of Kashmir could not be wished away in this process. Referring to energy shortage, the High Commissioner said that it would be overcome gradually as setting up new power plants and hydel power projects does take time.
The High Commissioner termed Pakistan-UK relations friendly and rooted in history; and said that now the cordiality in political relations has started to translate into trade and economic relations. The talk was followed by a lively Q and A session in which inquisitive participants raised their concerns and interest in various prevailing issues in the country. About 100 students attended the talk.
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