LAHORE – British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson Friday said that Pakistan was becoming a hub of trade and commerce due to the revolutionary initiative of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He was addressing the students and faculty members of the Government College University Lahore here.
He said that it was his ambition to make UK-Pakistan relations as close as it could be with in-laws.
Boris Johnson said, “The British High Commission in Islamabad is one of our biggest diplomatic missions in the world while the UK aid programme in Pakistan is the biggest in the world, totalling 375 million Pounds this year.”
He said that no fewer than 1.2 million Britons had Pakistani heritage among them were Members of Parliament, hugely successful sportsmen, popstars, journalists, scientists, scholars and business people.
The Foreign Secretary said, “Monuments in so many Pakistani cities serve as permanent reminders of the British contribution and people can see it in the architecture, in the cricket that unites our country and the whole of South Asia.”
He said, “In trading terms, Pakistan embraces the geographical heart of Asia where India, with over a billion people, lies only 15 miles away, to the West are Afghanistan and Iran, with a combined population of more than 100 million and north-west are the energy-rich states of Central Asia.”
Pakistan was the natural junction between all of these huge markets and the immense resources at their command. He stressed the need to develop more silk roads by constructing the modern links from East to West and West to East to overcome poverty.
He was of the view that nations should adopt open and free trade policy which served as an engine not only of economic success but of progress in every sense.
“I am very excited by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and I hope that British companies get to participate that will revive the ancient Silk Roads as rebirth of trading caravans connecting East and West,” he observed.
He said that Karachi was 6th largest city in the world and it should be one of Asia’s biggest trading entrepots, alongside Singapore or Shanghai.
“The only way to achieve that goal is closer economic integration and I believe that Britain can play a part in helping you to realise this vision,” he added.
The UK Foreign Secretary said that in recent years, Pakistan made huge progress. He said that national security was improved and the roots of democracy were strengthened while this civilian government took over from another civilian government in a manner that was peaceful and constitutional.
“But of course we all know that Pakistani citizens gave sacrifices during fighting against terrorism and extremism,” he said.
He maintained that Britain not only wanted to widen the horizons of its ties across the world including Pakistan but also wanted a Global Britain and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Boris Johnson said that there were few better illustrations of the friendship between the two countries than this remarkable institution. The Government College University was established by British administrators over 150 years ago, he added.