LONDON: The visiting Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif held a detailed meeting with British Home Secretary Amber Rudd and discussed bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern.
Pakistan and the United Kingdom have a shared history and as we move forward together, shared global and regional challenges. Commenting over these relations, Shahbaz Sharif said that it is striking and symbolic of our friendship that two per cent of the British population can trace back their roots to Pakistan with 1.2 million British Pakistanis helping to connect our two countries, culturally and commercially, thousands of miles apart.
“And it was in this spirit of friendship that we met last week to discuss a number of issues of mutual interest. This included our cooperation on international security, and our joint initiatives on education, health and gender equality”, he referred to the meeting. “Together, we reaffirmed the importance of our relationship and working with the international community to reduce the shared threat from international terrorism.
The horrendous attack in Lahore earlier this month, which claimed the lives of nine innocent people and injured many more and the 2017 UK terror attacks are stark reminders of why we need a joint approach in tackling those who wish to do our countries harm”. Last year, the UK Government and the Government of Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding which confirmed our co-operation across Pakistan’s provinces, including Punjab, on counter issues such as terrorism, migration and serious and organised crime.
And by working together, the UK in October 2015 commenced a five year counter explosives training programme which has helped to train and equip military and civilian law enforcement professionals in Pakistan to carry out searches and safely dispose of improvised explosive devices. This is in addition to the 112 anti-terrorism prosecutors together we have helped to train.
“Our work together on education programmes will help to further support these aims. The work between the Department for International Development and Punjab Education Support programme has helped to improve student attendence from 79 per cent in 2011 to 95 per cent in March 2017, the equivalent to more than 1 million additional students in school”.
Shahbaz Sharif told the media that they also discussed the important issue of rights and opportunities for women. In the UK, the full-time gender pay gap is the lowest it has ever been, while in Pakistan we have worked together to provide more than 35,000 women the ability to register as voters in Punjab.
“Last year, we celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations and reaffirmed our ambition to build prosperity for both our nations through trade policies and business links. We celebrated the strength and depth of this relationship and announced jointly that the UK‘s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), would double its support allowing Pakistan’s buyers to access finance to source highquality UK goods and services”, he said..