Celebrating connections between the UK and Pakistan

Published: February 21, 2012

The writer is Britain’s high commissioner to Pakistan

‘Why don’t we hear more about the good news coming out of Pakistan?’ As British High Commissioner, I often hear this question being asked of me both here in Islamabad but also back in the UK. Pakistanis at home and abroad are understandably concerned that the only news people hear about Pakistan is bad news. The news stories that dominate the headlines are, of course, important but surely there has to be room for some good news too?

At the British High Commission we have decided to play our part in presenting some of these positive stories by promoting the strong links between the UK and Pakistan. These ties are not just from our shared history but are between two modern vibrant societies.

Celebrating Connections is our campaign designed to highlight these ties. Its purpose is to inform people about the work that the UK does in Pakistan and about the unbreakable people-to-people links between our two countries. I hope it is going to get people in both countries thinking in a fresh way about our connections and about the opportunities these give us.

The campaign focuses on five main areas of shared interest: education, development, business, sport and cultural links. Of course, they are not the only areas but they are some of the most important.

Take education. The UK has stronger links to Pakistan in the education sector than any other country. There are more people studying for O and A levels in Pakistan each year than anywhere else outside of the UK and the British Council sends over 10,000 Pakistani students to the UK to study every year.

The second related area is the work of UKAid in supporting Pakistan’s development. Pakistan is one of the largest development programmes for Britain in the world. Working with local partners across the country we are improving the lives of ordinary Pakistanis, focusing on maternal health and education.

But aid can only do so much, which is why the third and vital area is trade and business. The UK is one of Pakistan’s largest foreign investors and both countries want to grow the trade between them. I am proud that the UK is the greatest advocate for Pakistan within the EU and that one out of every six foreign businesses investing in Pakistan is British.

2012 is the year of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, so sport has to be one of our connections. That’s not to mention our shared passion for cricket and the excellent (for Pakistan at least) series currently taking place in Abu Dhabi.

And the fifth, but perhaps the most important area, is the people-to-people links and the cultural ties that bind us. Whether it is the authors I was privileged enough to hear at the Karachi Literature Festival or the musicians that are as popular in Leicester as they are in Lahore, there are literally countless links between our countries’ citizens.

So from the young Pakistani girls going to school for the first time thanks to UKAid, to our joint work in supporting Pakistan’s Paralympics team, and British companies investing for the future and creating jobs in Pakistan, there are many bonds that bind our countries together.

There is much to say and to celebrate, and I invite readers to share their personal stories on the connections between our two nations. (They can do this by visiting our Facebook page or by following us on Twitter.)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2012.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Optimist
    Feb 21, 2012 - 11:10PM

    UK is indeed Pakistan’s great friend. We hope this bond will get stronger.

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  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    Feb 21, 2012 - 11:39PM

    What Pakistan is today, is all because of such friends. Thank God India had no such friends. British mentality came in open when India awarded jet fighter deal to France. Most of Pakistan’s troubles can be traced back to UK and USA.

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  • John B
    Feb 21, 2012 - 11:45PM

    I am not sure who is celebrating the connections, the giver or the recipient or both?

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  • Talha
    Feb 22, 2012 - 12:39AM

    We appreciate GB’s help and cherish our partnership.

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  • CK
    Feb 22, 2012 - 1:30AM

    What connection? Only slavery.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 22, 2012 - 3:28AM

    @Rajendhera kolkande
    fully agreed man,,

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  • sidra
    Feb 22, 2012 - 10:31AM

    One of the very steps that UK could take to promote cooperation and visits is to reduce the various UK visa fees payable in Pakistan. I believe they are one of the highest visa fees being charged in Pakistan. This deserves immediate attention, especially for asipiring students. Surely, they cant be expected to pay such high a fee.

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  • Feb 22, 2012 - 1:28PM

    undoubted UK is good friend of Pakistan these countries are helping Pakistan to boost their economy and social life of people without them not possible for surviving Pakistan. Thanks for support.

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  • Anand Kumar
    Feb 22, 2012 - 2:48PM

    The London Olympics are coming up. The British are very nervous and worried about secuirty threats most of them most probably either from Pakistani or Pakistani influenced elements. Hence this little public relations exercise, perhaps an attempt to soften hate filled hearts

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  • Shamy
    Feb 22, 2012 - 2:51PM

    Brilliant piece :)

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  • Noor
    Feb 22, 2012 - 3:41PM

    Anyone who thinks either US or UK is a friend, needs to re-visit current affairs & history.

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  • ethicalman
    Feb 22, 2012 - 8:38PM

    Pakistan has to thanks britian for creating it..and also for the incursion in Kashmir in 1948 was also planned by the Brit general of Pakistan…and also for making Pakistan an ally to the US in the 60′s…all done by the firangis..good luck to england !!

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  • Khan
    Feb 22, 2012 - 9:15PM

    @Noor:
    Any one who thinks otherwise needs to stop begging them in calamities then .. They help us the most whenever there is any natural disaster and save many people, give money for our education and healthcare … Just google how much development work these countries have done throughout our history .. May I ask how many times have you donated any thing to another country? Not a single right? people like you, won’t even thank a helping hand let alone expecting any good in return.
    Please have a look at this link about a news item relating to UK’s development work in Swat after the floods.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-14338857

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  • shozab
    Feb 23, 2012 - 11:29PM

    connection without respect !!!! lets see how you treat Pakistanis while issuing visas for Olympics.

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  • Zaman Shariff
    Mar 7, 2012 - 6:57PM

    I completely agree with the article , without the generous aid patronage by the mother of The Common Wealth Countries, Great Briton Pakistan would not come into any existance of being a state and without the UK aid the education spl in the areas infected with radicalisation would ruin Pakistans tatters to a failed state , I’ve reckoned the ground realities when i was a working with the flood victims in Sindh .
    Pakistan always flourished under the British Rule and hence it will flourish under H.M Common Wealth.

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