The visit by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Islamabad appears to have gone rather well. During his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who currently holds the portfolio for foreign affairs himself, Mr Hague emphasised the need for Pakistan to develop stronger regional ties with all of its neighbours, notably India. This, of course, is something that all of us would wish, and it is a good sign that the prime minister emphatically stated it was Islamabad’s desire to move on with the peace process with New Delhi and take it further, so that a more stable regional climate could be created. He also said that Pakistan sought good ties with Afghanistan, and this, too, for quite natural reasons given the current position on the war on militancy, was welcomed by Mr Hague.
During the meeting, matters such as terrorism and the offensive against it took up some of the agenda. But a significant amount of time was devoted to Pakistan’s economic needs and its desire to improve its situation in this regard. Prime Minister Sharif is understood to have sought the British foreign secretary’s support in finding a way to reach European markets and thereby expand the country’s export potential. Mr Hague also spoke of investment in Pakistan and agreed it should be expanded as far as possible. Naturally, when we look at the entire circle, it is true that for this, we will need a more stable environment and an end to the lawlessness that has played such a big part in keeping people away from the country.
Mr Hague also had some other good news for Pakistanis, notably the people of Lahore. During his visit to the city where he was hosted by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Mr Hague, apart from focusing on the performance of British investors in Pakistan, said that the British Council library in the city would soon reopen. The loss of that excellent facility for many years, as a result of security threats, has affected many and the decision to make it functional once more signals a new turn in ties between Pakistan and the UK as well as a normalisation of the situation within it.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.
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