Islamabad : Thomas Drew, British High Commissioner, has said that United Kingdom has a very direct and unique stake in Pakistan’s long-term future stability, security and prosperity.
Mr Drew was speaking at the Ambassador Lecture on ‘Post-Brexit foreign policy: future of Pakistan-UK Relations’ organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here Tuesday.
Mr Drew said that the two countries face shared challenges and opportunities which is the bedrock of Pakistan-UK relations. He said that UK’s relationship with Pakistan is not a discretionary one as both countries’ mutual interests are intimately tied to each other’s success.
He estimated that more than 2 per cent of Britain’s population now traces its roots back to Pakistan. British Pakistanis have a significant contribution to the social, economic, academic, cultural, and political fabric of the country, with 12 members in the House of Commons. UK is focused on helping Pakistan unleash its potential.
The high commissioner said that the UK’s diplomatic mission to Pakistan is the second biggest in the world; and its development programme in Pakistan, through DFID, is the largest such bilateral programme in the world and stands at half a billion dollars. He revealed that UK spends more on development aid in Pakistan than any other country or organisation in real terms.
Discussing Britain’s exit from the European Union, the High Commissioner pined that the UK is reshaping its place in the world as the decision has far-reaching consequences for our relationship with the continent. He reaffirmed that while we are changing our political relationship with the EU, we are not leaving Europe and our friends on the Continent. Furthermore, our commitment to international security would not change, he added.
Outlining a positive vision for the future of its relationship with Pakistan, the envoy stressed that the UK is focused on “helping Pakistan to unleash its potential” which will benefit both Pakistan in its own right as well as be the best guarantor of the UK’s defensive interests. He said that particularly in the post-Brexit world, the UK and Pakistan can benefit from each other’s economic success.
He concluded by saying that in not too distant future, trade and investment will form the central plank of Pakistan-UK relationship which will be the best guarantee of the future stability and prosperity of both countries, particularly in the post-Brexit world.
Earlier, IPRI’s President Abdul Basit in his welcome address said that Pak-UK relations have moved from strength-to-strength.