LAHORE, Nov 25 (APP): British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson met Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, here on Friday.
Matters of mutual interest, Pak Britain relations, promotion of cooperation in different sectors and regional issues including Kashmir problem were discussed in the meeting.
It was also agreed to hold Jinnah Conference in London.
The British Secretary of State appreciated the exemplary measures taken by Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif for the rapid development of province and said that he (CM) had taken splendid steps for the progress and prosperity of the people of Punjab as well as made commendable efforts for the uplift of education, health, infrastructure and other sectors.
Boris Johnson said that he and his delegation were accorded a rousing welcome on this visit to Lahore and he was thankful to the chief minister for the love and hospitality shown to him.
He said that Britain attached extraordinary importance to its relations with Pakistan especially Punjab as Punjab was the economic engine of Pakistan and had a high rate of economic development.
He said that Britain would further promote cooperation with Punjab as well as strengthen partnership with the provincial government in different sectors.
He said that there were vast opportunities of tourism in Punjab especially in Lahore and there was a need to promote tourism in the province for increasing economic and trade activities.
He also stressed the need for strengthening of trade and economic relations between Britain and Pakistan.
He said that British companies would explore possibilities of benefitting from extraordinary opportunities of investment in different sectors in Punjab and mutual contacts would be promoted as Pakistan had extraordinary significance and its economy was fast developing.
Boris Johnson welcomed the chief minister’s proposal to arrange Jinnah Conference in London and said that all out cooperation would be extended as it would be an important event.
The British Secretary of State appreciated the beauty of Lahore and said that though metro bus service was operational in the city and work was also being carried out on orange line metro train project, however there was a need for underground rail system in such a big city and Britain was ready to extend cooperation and expertise for this purpose.
He said that Britain understood Kashmir issue and such disputes were resolved through negotiations. He said that Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif sent a positive message by participating in the oath taking ceremony of Indian prime minister. He said that a durable peace was essential for development in the region.
Talking to British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Shehbaz Sharif said that Britain was an important trade and economic partner of Pakistan and both the countries had historical and friendly relations.
He said that British Department for International Development (DFID) was extending commendable cooperation in the sectors of education, health and skill development. He
said that proper and transparent utilization of British
taxpayers’ money was ensured in Punjab and every penny was
being spent on the welfare of the masses.
He said that Britain had played a laudable role in stability of democracy in Pakistan. Shehbaz Sharif said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, result oriented measures had been taken during the last three and a half years for elimination of terrorism and controlling energy crisis and these steps had yielded positive results.
He said that Pakistan was more safe, peaceful and economically strong today. He said that Pakistani nation had rendered unprecedented sacrifices in the war against terrorism and thousands of Pakistanis had laid down their lives.
He said that political and military leadership started a decisive war against terrorism with complete consensus and Pakistan had achieved splendid successes.
Shehbaz Sharif said that a counter terrorism force had been formed in Punjab which had been imparted training in a very professional manner. He said that this force was playing a vanguard role in the war against terrorism. He said that further efforts were needed to root out the menace of terrorism and besides use of force, socio economic measures
were also essential for complete victory. He said the Punjab government had initiated unprecedented welfare programmes in this regard.
The chief minister said that change in mindset was necessary to control extremist trends in the society and multidimensional measures were being taken for this purpose.
He said that extremist trends were being curbed in the society
through ensuring justice, education, employment opportunities
and public health facilities.
He said that promotion of interfaith harmony was essential for elimination of intolerance in the society.
Shehbaz Sharif said that there was no room for terrorism, extremism and sectarianism in the Pakistan of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who gave the message of tolerance, forbearance, restraint and Jinnah Conference would be held in London for spreading this message.
He said that cooperation of Britain in arranging Jinnah Conference would be welcomed. He said the Punjab government had empowered and provided respectable job opportunities to thousands of youth through skill development and scope of this programme was being extended to the whole province.
He said that the volume of Punjab Educational Endowment Fund had reached Rs 20 billion and it was the biggest and the most unique educational fund of South Asia through which scholarships were given to resourceless boy and girl students for higher education.
He said that more than 150,000 boy and girl students were studying in prestigious educational institutions in Pakistan as well as abroad with the help of this fund.
Shehbaz Sharif said the Punjab government had eliminated child labour from brick kilns and these children had been enrolled in schools and their educational expenses were being borne by the provincial government.
He said that more than 70,000 children had been rescued from child labour and given admission in educational institutions. He said that boy and girl students were also gaining modern knowledge through IT labs set up in schools in Punjab at a cost of billions of rupees.
Similarly, he said, Daanish schools had been established for extremely poor children in less developed districts of Punjab and their standard of education was at par with educational institutions of Europe. He said that students were imparted education in Daanish schools through smart board.
The Chief Minister stressed the need for promoting cooperation between Britain and Punjab and said that Britain should promote partnership in Safe City Project, mega projects of water supply, infrastructure, transport and other sectors as it would further strengthen bilateral relations.
Referring to Kashmir issue, the Chief Minister said that Pakistan and India had fought wars but war was not solution to any problem.
He said that Pakistan was a peaceful country and wanted peace with its neighbours.
He said that India and Pakistan should resolve mutual disputes through purposeful and meaningful dialogue.
Shehbaz Sharif said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif gave a
positive message by participating in oath taking ceremony of Indian prime minister but India had not taken any positive step in this regard and was violating human rights in Occupied Kashmir through state oppression. He said that international community especially Britain could play an important role in this regard.
He said that cooperation of Britain would be welcomed for underground rail metro project in Lahore.
British High Commissioner Thomas Drew, head of DFID Pakistan
Ms. Joanna Reid, Special Advisor Liam Parker, Director of Directorate for South Asia and Afghanistan Owen Jenkins as well as Provincial Ministers, Rana Sanaullah, Rana Mashhood Ahmed, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Chief Secretary, Chairman Planning & Development, Secretary Home and senior officials were present on the occasion.