PM seeks UK’s support on economic reforms agenda

* Nawaz says govt committed to enhancing welfare, security of people by reviving economy, overcoming energy shortage, eradicating extremism, promoting human rights

LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday appreciated UK’s strong support for grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union (EU), and sought its support on Pakistan’s economic reforms agenda.
The premier also hailed UK’s continued development assistance provided through the Department for International Development (DFID), particularly in health and education sectors. The prime minister was talking to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who called on him. He is currently in London on an official visit to review and further strengthen the strategic relations between the two countries. 
Speaking about his government’s priorities, the prime minister said his government was committed to enhancing the welfare and security of its people by reviving the economy, overcoming energy shortage, eradicating extremism and promoting human rights and good governance. Secretary Hague appreciated the economic reforms agenda of the government and offered UK’s assistance and cooperation in its implementation. He also offered support to Pakistan in meeting its obligations under the GSP Plus regime. 
The post-election situation in Afghanistan, including security environment in the post-2014 withdrawal scenario, was also discussed. Secretary Hague welcomed the Pakistan government’s efforts to establish cordial and cooperative relations with India. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and acting High Commissioner Mohammad Imran Mirza also attended the meeting.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and British High Commissioner for Pakistan Philip Barton accompanied Secretary Hague. After the meeting, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Foreign Secretary Hague and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the presence of Prime Minister Nawaz on the status and operations of the British Council in Pakistan. The MoU manifests the desire of the two countries to further develop and strengthen the ties of friendship in educational, scientific, technical and cultural matters.
Prime Minister Nawaz lauded the British government’s ongoing cooperation and assistance to Pakistan in the spheres of security and counter-terrorism. He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to fight against extremism and militancy, and pointed out the unprecedented sacrifices rendered by the country in terms of human lives and economic losses. He updated Secretary May on the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) and the dialogue process with the Taliban. 
The prime minister shared his government’s plans to improve the working of counter-terrorism organisations at the federal level and creation of similar organisations at the provincial level. He also underlined the need for enhanced cooperation between the two countries in all spheres. The home secretary said the British government recognised Pakistan’s commitment and sacrifices in the global war on terror. She said the United Kingdom would extend all possible help to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in dealing with extremism and terrorism. Both sides expressed their resolve to continue benefiting from each other’s expertise in relevant areas.   
Addressing Pakistan Investment Conference in London, Prime Minister Nawaz urged international investors to take benefits from liberal investment opportunities in Pakistan. He said the government has successfully improved the macro-economic framework in less than one year. He said foreign exchange reserves have reached $12 billion, decreasing pressure on rupee. Nawaz said the auction of four 3G and one 4G licences for over one billion dollars reflects the confidence of the global investors in the emerging Pakistani market. He said 40 percent improvement in the stock market capitalisation is another significant economic indicator about Pakistan’s fast growing economy.

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