Pakistan, UK need to work hand in hand, Nisar tells Hammond

ISLAMABAD – Minister for Interior Affairs Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday said that Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK) need to work hand in hand for promoting peace and overcoming shared challenges.

Talking to British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond who called on him here, he said both the countries also need to forge a robust partnership in area of counter-terrorism, organised crimes and against those who put the peace of region at stake.

The minister said by virtue of trust and confidence traditionally enjoyed by United Kingdom among people of the region, UK is equipped to play a leading role towards socio-economic development, ensuring long lasting peace and promoting reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

The meeting of the two leaders, comprising two rounds, discussed a whole gamut of Pak-UK bilateral relationship and mutual cooperation, especially focusing on counter-terrorism cooperation, combating organised crime, the issue of illegal immigrants and overall situation of the region.

Discussing bilateral relations, Nisar observed that Pakistan greatly values its friendly relations with UK and appreciates the assistance that UK has provided to the country in overcoming challenges. He said there is need to further strengthen the existing cooperation, especially in fighting the menace of terrorism and combating organised crimes.

The minister said Pakistan does not look for pounds and pennies but desires to have long term partnership of institutionalised assistance in terms of sharing of expertise, training and capacity building of its institutions. He also reiterated that Islam should not be equated with militancy by the West and added UK has always reached out to Muslim community to reassure them that mainstream Islam has nothing to do with militancy and terrorism.

He said Islam emphasizes on peace and harmony with all communities and militants do not, in any manner, represent true Islam. Talking about ongoing fight against militants, the minister said Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a manifestation of our sincere efforts to completely eradicate this menace from our soil and added “We look forward towards international community especially towards our friends like UK to strengthen our capacity to fight militancy.”

Nisar said that Zarb-e-Azb operation promises our country and coming generations a new era free from threats of violence and insecurity. He said the efforts of armed forces and law enforcing agencies under Zarb-e-Azb have resulted in significant successes, however, the baggage of decades requires continued efforts with commitment and sincerity of purpose.

British Foreign Secretary while appreciating countless sacrifices of the country and the people assured continued assistance to the country and its people in their fight against militancy. He also agreed to observation of the Minister for need to make greater and conscious efforts not to let non-state actors hijack foreign policy and dictate their terms to the sovereign states.

There was unanimity of views between the two leaders that long lasting and sustained peace was essential for overall socio-economic development in the region. Mutual trade and greater economic activities hold the key to ensuring and providing solid foundations to the lasting peace in the region.

Discussing regional situation, Nisar reiterated that Pakistan would continue making every possible effort for promoting peace and re-conciliatory process in neighboring Afghanistan. The British secretary appreciated the vision of the Minister for peace in the region.

He also appreciated the efforts made by the government and the Interior Ministry towards regulating return of illegal immigrants on one hand and launching comprehensive campaign against human traffickers on the other.He assured the Minister of all possible assistance towards capacity building of law-enforcement agencies, counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing and efforts, aimed at fighting organized crime.

The one-on-one meeting was later joined by other members of British delegation, federal ministers and ministers of state, including Rana Tanvir Ahmed Khan, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Anusha Rehman, Balighur Rehman, Parliamentary Secretary Maryam Aurangzeb and senior officers of the interior and foreign affairs ministries.

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