Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson renews support to rebuild Afghanistan and hailed Britain’s “old friendship” with Pakistan as he completes his first official visit to the region….reports Asian Lite News
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain and Pakistan share an old friendship and profound ties of history. During his two days visit to capital Islamabad and commercial hub Lahore, the foreign secretary held talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, opposition leaders including Imran Khan, business CEOs and senior clerics.
Mr Johnson underlined the UK’s determination to boost trade and investment with Pakistan, as well as continuing to support the country’s efforts in tackling extremism and instability.
“Britain and Pakistan share an old friendship and profound ties of history,” the foreign secretary said. “No fewer than 1.2 million Britons, around 2 per cent of the entire UK population, are of Pakistani heritage.
“It was clear from my visit that our countries can work even closer together to help Pakistan unleash its full potential. I held very productive talks with senior Government figures and opposition leaders about our support for Pakistan’s democratic reforms, working together to defeat extremism and creating new trade opportunities.
In addition to meeting political leaders, Mr Johnson heard from schoolgirls attending UK aid-supported Kinnaird Girls School, founded in Lahore by a Scottish family in 1913; watched street cricket with members of Pakistan’s women’s cricket team; and marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with students in the new library of the British Council in Lahore.
The Foreign Secretary also addressed students at the Government College in Lahore, met senior business leaders about investment opportunities, and visited Lahore’s Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort.
Boris in Kabul
“Afghanistan is an amazing country and I’m incredibly proud of the work that the UK is doing here to challenge extremism and terrorism, promote democracy and human rights and support the Afghan Government’s reform plans,” Mr Johnson said in Kabul.
He was on a one day visit to Kabul. Mr Johnson held meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, in which he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity and discussed the Afghan Government’s reform plans.
The Foreign Secretary also witnessed the work Britain is doing to train Afghan security forces and tackle terrorism and UK projects promoting education and women’s rights. He visited the
Afghan National Army Officer Academy to meet British military trainers, and Kabul University where the British Council is supporting education and cultural projects.
Mr Johnson also went to the British Cemetery in Kabul to pay his personal tribute at a memorial to the 456 UK servicemen and women who lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.
“British Military trainers are improving the ability of the Afghan military to stabilise the country and respond to extremism, and our development works means girls are defying extremists by going to school and university. Our work also means that terrorism is increasingly tackled at source,” said Mr Johnson
“Hundreds of British men and women continue to work here for noble reasons, in often highly dangerous circumstances, and we continue to owe them a huge debt of gratitude for the vital contribution that they are making.”