ISLAMABAD, Jun 30 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Sunday said that Pakistan considers the United Kingdom (UK) as its close friend and genuine development partner and expressed the hope that like in the past, it would continue advocating Pakistan’s cause in the European Union (EU) market. “The United Kingdom has a strong voice in the EU. We are especially grateful to Prime Minister Cameron for his personal efforts to secure trade concessions for Pakistan in the EU,” he said while addressing a joint press conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron.
He said the lead taken by the UK in campaigning for Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATPs) for Pakistan is invaluable and added that he has shared with Prime Minister Cameron his desire to be included in the GSP Plus Scheme in 2014, and expects the support and cooperation that the UK has always extended to Pakistan.
He said realization of the GSP Plus would promote cherished goal of creating gainful employment opportunities for Pakistani youth.
“Pakistan and the UK have strong historic and cultural affinities. The two countries have shared objectives of peace and stability in our region and beyond. We greatly appreciate the UK’s economic, education and social development assistance,” he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz said the UK is one of the leading trading partners, adding that Pakistan is committed to enhancing the current bilateral trade as there are enormous investment opportunities currently exist in Pakistan.
“I am sure that British entrepreneurs would take advantage of these mutually beneficial opportunities,” he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said being a close friend of Pakistan, his British counterpart has launched the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“I and Prime Minister Cameron share a strong commitment to education for all,” he said, adding that Pakistan highly appreciates the UK support for education as this constructive engagement on education would lay the foundations for a better future of Pakistani people.
Highlighting positive role being played by over one-million strong Pakistani community in the UK, he said they are a living bridge between the two countries and are crucial in realizing the goal in making Pakistan a vibrant country.
Prime Minister Nawaz, with regard to meeting with his British counterpart said, the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations was discussed and he informed Prime Minister Cameron on his government’s priorities and objectives set to improve lives of ordinary Pakistanis.
In this context, he said he also apprised the Prime Minister Cameron about austerity measures being undertaken to ensure fiscal discipline and address challenge of energy shortages with a view to implementing economic development agenda.
He said,”We also discussed regional and international issues during talks and realized that there are many convergences. We are convinced that terrorism is a common threat and a huge global challenge.”
Prime Minister Nawaz said Pakistan has suffered the most in terms of human and financial losses, adding that Pakistan is, therefore, resolved to tackle menace of extremism and terrorism with renewed vigour and close cooperation with its friends.
Lauding the UK’s role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Prime Minister expressed the hope the UK would continue these efforts to seek sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“We believe that such a process should be inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. I have assured Prime Minister Cameron of our firm resolve to promote shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan to which the 3 million Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan can return with honour and dignity,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that UK premier was the first head of a foreign government to visit Pakistan after peaceful transition of a democratic set up. He said that in the general elections, people of Pakistan on May 11 have shown yet again their unflinching confidence in democracy and democratic ideals.
British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his victory in the general elections and termed the peaceful transition of democratic set up ‘as golden moments for people of Pakistan.’
He said people of Pakistan should fully avail this opportunity to show to the world that they have a democratic set up.
Prime Minister said for people of Pakistan he had the message that the UK deeply cares about Pakistan.
About bilateral ties, the visiting dignitary said that their relations had many facets dating back to many years and these had bright future ahead because these ties now grew more stronger between the two democracies.
He also referred to the one million Pakistanis expatriates living in UK.
Prime Minister Cameron said he knew that a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interests as a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan was in Afghanistan’s interests.
With regard to the issue of terrorism, the British Prime Minister said that it required tough and uncompromising cooperation and the both countries should conduct this fight against terrorism together.
The British Premier announced that they would be making largest investment and set up British Council offices in Lahore and Karachi to enhance cultural and social ties.
Prime Minister Cameron arrived in Pakistan on a two-day official visit on Saturday. This is Cameron’s second visit to Pakistan as earlier he visited the country in April 2011.
During his stay in Islamabad, the visiting dignitary held wide ranging talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on various bilateral issues.
(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)