Zardari, Gilani praise UK understanding of Pakistan’s sacrifices in war on terror


The appreciation and understanding shown by the government and the people of the United Kingdom for the sacrifices given by the people of Pakistan in the war against terrorism, as reflected in the recent statement by British Prime Minister David Cameron is appreciable, President Asif Ai Zardari said on Tuesday.
“The UK’s pronouncement of being a friend and partner of Pakistan at this critical juncture is encouraging and provides impetus to further strengthening our strategic partnership and deepening our mutual cooperation,” Zardari said during his meeting with William Hague, UK’s secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, who called on the president along with his delegation at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. UK’s assistance to Pakistan, bilateral trade, war against terrorism and the regional situation were discussed in the meeting. Expressing satisfaction over the progress made so far under the umbrella of enhanced strategic dialogue, the president said the ESD was a manifestation of “our common resolve to comprehensively upgrade our relationship”.
Discussing matters relating to trade, he said bilateral trade was following an upward trajectory. He said the two countries needed to make sustained efforts to achieve the target set under Pak-UK Trade and Investment Roadmap to raise the level of trade to £2.5 billion by 2015.
Zardari said Pakistan offered great opportunities to the British investor to invest in various areas. “We need to encourage exchange of businessmen from the two countries to further strengthen our economic interactions.”
The president also thanked the British government for its support and advocating Autonomous Trade Preference for Pakistan in the EU in the wake of eth 2010 floods.
Discussing the regional situation, Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance of lending all support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned solution of the problems in Afghanistan. He said, “We support an all inclusive reconciliation process in the neighboring country.”
He said a strong, peaceful and stable Afghanistan was not only in the interests of eth Afghans but also for Pakistan.
The British foreign secretary thanked Zardari and assured him that the UK would continue to stand besides the people of Pakistan in their fight against militancy and their efforts to promote democracy and democratic culture in the country.
Gilani: Separately, Hague also called on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and exchanged views on a host of issues including bilateral relations, situation in Afghanistan and democratic process in the country.
The prime minister told Hague that both Pakistan and the United Kingdom enjoyed excellent relations which were based on commonality of interests.
He said the Pak-UK comprehensive strategic dialogue covered areas of trade and investment, economic growth and development, defence and security and cultural and educational exchange between both countries.
Gilani said power shortages had hampered the pace of economic growth in the country, adding that immense investment opportunities existed in the energy sector in Pakistan.
He said over 100 UK-based companies were doing profitable business in Pakistan and the British companies should explore investment opportunities in this sector.
He said he also took up the issue of transfer of civil nuclear deal with the US administration in an effort to overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan, adding that the US promised to extend possible assistance to Pakistan to address power shortages by tapping hydel, coal and wind resources.
The Prime Minister praised the UK’s support to Pakistan for waiver of tariff and enhanced market access to Pakistani exports under the generalised system of preferences (GSP plus).
The prime minister said he would be visiting Afghanistan in the near future to hold talks with President Hamid Karzai.
Hague congratulated the prime minister on presenting a balanced budget, which was also the fifth budget of the democratic government.
The British foreign secretary said the UK valued relations with Pakistan and the US as former enjoyed excellent relations with both Islamabad and Washington. He also supported Pakistan’s policy of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, adding that its success would contribute to the stability of the region.