BY Itrat Bashir

Britain and Pakistan have agreed to continue their cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, organized crime and illegal migration.

These issues were discussed during a meeting between Pakistan Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs and Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, British National Security Adviser (NSA), which was held in London to review Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) between Pakistan and the UK, disclosed a Pakistan High Commission’s spokesperson on Tuesday.

Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, with Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive Officer of British Council and Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK
Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, with Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive Officer of British Council and Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK

The Adviser was on a three-day official visit to the UK to participate in the third Ministerial Review of the Pakistan-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue from April 18th to 20th. He also participated in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on April 20th.

In meeting with NSA, both sides agreed to continue their cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, organized crime and illegal migration. The Adviser appreciated the UK’s support and assistance in countering the extremist threat. He briefed the NSA on the initiatives taken by Pakistan to improve the security situation, including the ongoing military offensive ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and the National Action Plan (NAP).

The Adviser also highlighted Pakistan’s policy of “peaceful neighbourhood” and briefed his interlocutor on the steps taken by Pakistan to improve relations with its neighbours, including India and Afghanistan.

The NSA commended Pakistan’s efforts to curb extremism and offered UK’s continued support in timely and effective implementation of the National Action Plan. He also assured of UK’s support in capacity building of the security and law enforcement agencies, including NACTA.

The NSA lauded Pakistan’s role in seeking peace and stability in Afghanistan. On India, he added that UK was ready for its meaningful role in strengthening regional security and cooperation.

(Left to right) Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Naz Shah MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Yasmin Qureshi MP, and Lord Qurban Hussain
(Left to right) Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Naz Shah MP, Rehman Chishti MP, Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Yasmin Qureshi MP, and Lord Qurban Hussain

Sartaj Aziz also held a meeting with Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive Officer of British Council. During the meeting, the two sides discussed and reviewed the whole spectrum of activities under the existing education and cultural roadmap signed in 2014, with particular focus on British Council’s work in Pakistan.

The Adviser emphasized on the need for reinvigorating the cultural and educational connections between the two countries. Both sides decided to expand British Council’s activities in Pakistan with opening libraries and cultural centres in Karachi and Lahore along with a digital library available to millions of Pakistanis.

To enhance cultural engagement, it was also agreed that a new cultural roadmap would be signed between Pakistan and the UK. The new roadmap would focus on collaboration in arts, archaeology, and research and develop partnerships to support heritage, museums and the creative industries.

In addition to the above meetings, the Adviser also attended a lunch with the British Pakistani Parliamentarians hosted by Syed Ibne Abbas, High Commissioner for Pakistan at the British Parliament.