Islamabad: A five-member UK delegation led by Sir Peter Ricketts, National Security Advisor, called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at the PM House today to hold discussion on Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between the two countries.
The Prime Minister was assisted by the Foreign Minister, Mrs. Hina Rabbani Khar, Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, DG, ISI, Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Foreign Secretary, Mr. Salman Bashir.
Sir Peter Ricketts, UK Security Advisor, was assisted by General Sir David Richards, Chief of Defence Staff, Sir John Sawers, Chief of SIS (MI-6), Ambassador Mark Sedwill, UK’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Mr. Adam Thomson, British High Commissioner.
The meeting was a part of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the UK.
Prime Minister Gilani mentioned his meetings and joint press interaction with the British Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Summit in Perth along with Canadian Prime Minister, Australian and Nigerian President regarding polio eradication initiative among other subjects.
Prime Minister Gilani highly appreciated the assistance of the UK particularly in the field of health and education that would go a long way to help the Government of Pakistan to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
The Prime Minister mentioned that the Council of Common Interests, representing all the provinces including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit/Baltistan, had passed a unanimous resolution on setting the national standards of education and enhancing budgets for education.
The Prime Minister was highly appreciative of the UK assistance in the development of the economy. UK was one of the biggest foreign investors in Pakistan, co-operation in the various sectors of economy was progressing well, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister complimented the UK for giving generous financial assistance during the natural calamities this year, as well as in 2010 and in 2005.
Sir Peter Ricketts, UK National Security Advisor, appreciated the role of Pakistan in the war on terror adding that economic stability was necessary to effectively work as a bulwark against the tide of terrorism. He said that his country would continue co-operation with Pakistan in multiple fields as envisaged in the Strategic Partnership.
The British delegation appreciated the recent improvement in India–Pakistan relations observing that surge in trade relations would definitely enable Pakistan to offset the fast approaching global recession which has already engulfed many countries of the developed world. Economic security is assuming added significance in the international diplomatic and inter-state relations, the advisor said.
Other components of the strategic partnership between the two countries are counter-terrorism co operation, trade and commerce relations, financial macroeconomic stabilization, development assistance and cultural co-operation.
The Prime Minister said that an Afghan delegation was coming soon to Pakistan and Pakistan would extend full co-operation in the investigation of the gruesome murder of Professor Burhanuddin who was a great friend of Pakistan. His murder was a setback to the peace process, the Prime Minister observed.
The Prime Minister further said that Pakistan was in favour of the peace process in Afghanistan which was Afghan led and Afghan owned because independent, prosperous, stable and sovereign Afghanistan is in our interest.
The Prime Minister emphasized that Pakistan did not want a solution that would destabilize Pakistan as was the case last time when three million Afghan refugees took shelter in Pakistan and are still in Pakistan. We want their early return with honour and dignity, the Prime Minister said.
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