President Zardari says Pakistan is a staunch supporter of peace and stability in Afghanistan

Islamabad, June 29, 2013 (PPI-OT): President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Pakistan is a staunch supporter of peace and stability in Afghanistan and it would continue to support every effort aimed at restoring sustainable and long-term peace to the war-torn country.

This he said during his meeting with the British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron here at Aiwan-e-Sadr tonight.

Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar while briefing about the meeting said that the British Prime Minister on the very outset of the meeting congratulated the President for overseeing a smooth transition from one democracy to another and observed that the smooth transition of the Government reflected a measure of maturity achieved by the country and augurs well for further strengthening of democratic traditions in the country.

President Zardari while thanking the visiting dignitary remarked that the credit for smooth transition went to all political parties, the Parliament and above all the people of Pakistan for participation in the electoral process despite threats from militants and anti-democratic elements. He said that the smooth transition of the Government as a result of the electoral process was a clear demonstration that the ethos of our people was democratic and that was why dictatorship failed to take roots in the country.

Spokesperson said that two rounds of talks were held one at the delegation level and the other a one on one meeting. Pak-UK bilateral relations and the regional situation was discussed during the meetings with special reference to some recent developments aimed at bringing peace in the neighbouring country.

Discussing regional situation, the President recalled the three Trilateral Summits that were facilitated by United Kingdom and appreciated its role towards promoting reconciliation in Afghanistan.

He reiterated that Pakistan considers regional peace and security vital for its own socio-economic interests and it would continue to support every effort aimed at restoring peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and in the region.

The President emphasized that Pakistan all along has maintained a constructive approach and believes that dialogue and reconciliation was the only war forward towards ensuring durable peace in Afghanistan. The President welcomed efforts being made for finding a peaceful solution to the long drawn conflict in Afghanistan. He expressed the hope that the efforts made would also take into account legitimate concerns of all the stakeholders.

Discussing bilateral relations, the President said that Pakistan considers UK as a friend and genuine development partner. He said that it was a matter of great satisfaction that Pak-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) that covers entire spectrum of bilateral relations has institutionalized our consultation process in all areas of mutual concern and interest.

The President also appreciated UK assistance to the country especially in the education sector and poverty alleviation program.

The President expressed satisfaction over the fact that the mutual trade between the two countries was following an upward trajectory. He said that sustained efforts should continue to go beyond the target of £2.5 billion set under 2012 Pakistan-UK Trade and Investment Roadmap.

Calling for expanding the scope of UK Foreign Direct Investment in the fields of energy, infrastructure development, agriculture, agro-based industry and mining, the President said that Pakistan looks forwards to UK’s investment especially in the energy sector.

Highlighting the investment-friendly regime of the country, the President said that Pakistan would welcome both UK investors who want partnerships and those who want to operate independently. The President said that we are working simultaneously on coal mining and coal-generated power plants and would welcome UK expertise.

While thanking the British Prime Minister for his personal efforts in securing trade concessions for Pakistan in the EU and UK’s advocacy for Autonomous Trade Preferences for Pakistan, the President said that Pakistan was keen to be included in the GSP Plus Scheme in 2014.

He said that Pakistan would greatly welcome UK assistance for early consideration of its request by EU. The President said that GSP Plus would create jobs and economic opportunities for our unemployed youth which is the most effective tool to neutralize the threat posed by the militants and extremists.

Those who were present during the meeting included Ms Saeeda Warsi, Sir Kim Darroch, National Security Advisor, British High Commissioner Mr. Adam Thomson, and Mr. Ed Lewellyn. Pak side included Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, Foreign Secretary Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani and others.

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