Islamabad: A British delegation led by Mr. Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs today called on President Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
Other members of the delegation included Permanent under Secretary of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Simon Fraser and Dr. Peter Tibber, British Acting High commissioner in Islamabad.
Senator A. Rehman Malik, Federal Minister for Interior, Mr. M. Salman Farooqui, Secretary General, EX Law Minister Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar Awan, Ms Farahnaz Ispahani, MNA Senator Sughra Imam and Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar also attended the meeting.
Briefing the media, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak- UK bilateral cooperation, strategic dialogue, fight against militancy , trade and economic cooperation and regional issues were discussed.
The situation arising out of the Abbottabad operation were also discussed during the meeting.
The President said that Pakistan has rendered great sacrifices both human and material than any other country in the fight against militancy and terrorism. He said that the Government and the people of Pakistan appreciate British acknowledgement of Pak counter terrorism efforts.
He said that Britain and Pakistan needed to work closely to further enhance their partnership in diverse areas mainly in trade, investment and education with a view to eliminate militancy and terrorism from Pakistan and promote peace and security of the region and the world.
The President however emphasized on trade not aid to create job opportunities for the youth of the country and said that 65 % of the country’s population comprised of youth who looked for jobs and opportunities which had been destroyed by the war on militancy. A jobless and idle youth is likely to join the ranks of extremists unless he is provided with opportunities that gave him hope for the future, he said. The President said that he was asking the world community for helping Pakistan recover its shattered economy through opportunities for greater trade and market access and not just aid.
The Spokesperson said that the President while highlighting the significance of Pak- UK strategic dialogue said that the dialogue covering important aspects of our relations would further strengthen the cooperative partnership between the two countries. He emphasized the need that the two sides should gear up and make concerted efforts to achieve the objectives that we have set for ourselves in the Declaration of Enhanced Strategic Dialogue. He said that the National Security Dialogue would lead to creating a better understanding in bringing about clarity on issues of global, regional peace and security. He said that Pakistan wants to have an in-depth engagement with the UK on these issues, adding that such an engagement must be based on sovereign equality, mutual trust and respect and mutual interest.
Discussing Afghanistan situation, the President said that peace and stability in Afghanistan was necessary for regional peace and emphasized on Afghan led peace process in the country. Pakistan would support any initiative on Afghanistan which ensure Afghan ownership of the process as well as territorial integrity of the country and that its soil was not used against any other country. He reiterated Pakistan stance for peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
The delegation appreciated the sacrifices made by the government and people of Pakistan in fighting violent extremism and militancy and assured to the democratic government the continued support and cooperation of the British government in curbing militancy, revival of economy and in fields of trade, investment and education.
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