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August 17, 2016

Beating violence with hope


August 17, 2016

Like many people in Pakistan, in the UK and around the world, I was horrified and shocked to wake up to the news of the terrible attack in Quetta.

Hospitals are safe havens, not targets. The fact that someone could deliberately cause death and destruction at a hospital is utterly reprehensible.

No campaign, no mission, no argument justifies such an act. Terrorism is terrorism, wherever it takes place – whether in Pakistan, in the UK, or anywhere else in the world. We must all stand firm in doing all we can to eliminate that threat, wherever it emanates from.

Pakistan and the people of Pakistan matter a great deal to the UK, and every attack on Pakistan is an attack on us and our values. We in Britain know how much terrorism is costing families in Pakistan. We know that the toll Pakistan is paying – and too many families have paid – is immeasurable.

That is why the UK condemns terrorism, and why we condemn the extremist views that allow people to justify violence. Democracy will prevail in Pakistan.

But Pakistan will only rid itself of violent attacks by working to stop all terrorist groups and extremism. Supporting any groups who turn to, or excuse, violence to achieve their aims invariably leads to innocents suffering.

Ultimately we all need to focus on helping to deliver the hopes and aspirations of the many millions of hard working, law abiding families in Pakistan. That is why Pakistan is the biggest recipient of British development aid in the world.

And it is no accident that our programmes are focused on helping people in Pakistan with the things that matter to families. We focus on education, economic development, health and the very poorest; but we are also supporting you through programmes to help combat violence.

We want to help people in Pakistan to lead the lives they want, and we know a bright future for their children is what families across Pakistan want too.

To assist in that process we understand the need to build on the commercial ties that provide the economic foundation for that prosperous future – growing the base of over 100 British companies providing goods and services to the people of Pakistan and improving bilateral trade.

Like every Briton, I know first-hand how important the British relationship with Pakistan is. It is particularly special because around 1.5 million people of Pakistani descent live in the UK, making great contributions in business, the public services and across British society.

We know that families in the UK and Pakistan do not want to be worrying about violence and intolerance; they want to be looking to build a community and country that gives their children hope and opportunity.

You will want to mourn for your loss and we mourn with you. But on August 14 you celebrated Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day. That is a time to reflect on the founding vision for Pakistan. A vision of a modern, tolerant, respectful nation, and a beacon for Islam across the world.

As Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisaged, a country with “hope, courage and confidence.”

As I reflect on Pakistan’s achievements: its creativity, its energy and the huge potential of its people, I can see that that vision still remains Pakistan’s future. And the UK is committed to helping Pakistan reach that goal.

The writer is the minister for Asia and the Pacific?, Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.


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