British Foreign Secy Boris Johnson arrives in capital: 'We call for an end to violence in Kashmir'Pakistan
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrived in Islamabad on a two-day official visit on Thursday.
Addressing a joint press conference alongside Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Johnson said the UK country calls for an end to violence in Kashmir but added at the same time that it was not for his country to "prescribe a solution or act as a mediator" in the conflict of the disputed region.
"The longstanding position of the UK is that is it for India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the situation in Kashmir taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people."
"Of course we are concerned about recent incidents on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir and we call for an end to the violence," he said, urging Pakistan and India to exercise restraint and maintain a dialogue.
"Look at the incredible human potential of Pakistan and its neighbours, and then imagine what the future could be like if this was sorted out."
He said the "mutual sequestration" of the India-Pakistan economies was holding back the region from becoming a "boom zone".
Aziz said Pakistan appreciates Britain's assistance in key areas specially education and health sectors.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited British PM Theresa May to visit Pakistan in 2017 and "we eagerly look foward to this visit".
The British foreign secretary said it is vital to encourage trade and commercial-economic interpenetration between UK and Pakistan.
"Consider the size of the Pakistan economy...look at the size of the UK economy. We could do so much better than 2.5 billion pounds a year of bilateral trade."
"We have agreed to launch a programme of business engagement focusing not just on enhanced strategic dialogue, but also on the opportunities presented by celebrations of Pakistan's 70th anniversary next year," he said.
Johnson earlier met Aziz at the Foreign Office (FO) to discuss bilateral ties between Pakistan and the UK, FO Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said on Twitter.
During the meeting, Johnson said he is excited to be in Pakistan and wants to "further consolidate rock solid friendship between our two countries".
He said he wants to concentrate on boosting trade and investment between UK and Pakistan and build the confidence of British investors in Pakistani market.
"UK appreciates Pakistan's extraordinary economic potential and exuberant youth population," Zakaria quoted the foreign secretary as saying.
Johnson said his country acknowledges "Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and fully understand[s] the situation".
Senior FO officials received the British official on his arrival to Pakistan, Radio Pakistan reported.
He also met the staff of British High Commission in Pakistan during his maiden visit.
Boris Johnson also called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Prime Minister's Office today.
Welcoming the Secretary on his first visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz expressed his concern "at the recent developments in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the gross human rights violations by Indian security forces."
"Pakistan wants a serious, sustained and result-oriented dialogue with India on all issues of mutual concern ? the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the main threat to security in the region," Nawaz said, adding that recent escalation in ceasefire violations by Indian security forces along the LoC are an attempt at diverting the world's attention away from the situation in held Kashmir.
He urged the international community in general,and the UK in particular to "take notice of the gravity of the situation and call on India to respect human rights of the people of Kashmir and implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir."
Prime Minister Nawaz said, "Pakistan considers the UK a close friend and a trusted partner ? our bilateral relations are founded on shared history, cultural linkages and strong people-to-people contacts.
"Pakistan and the UK have strong economic and trade ties; we are confident that our existing relations with the UK would be further enhanced to the mutual benefit of both countries."
The Prime Minister highlighted Pakistan’s contributions in the global fight against terrorism and said "Pakistan has been the worst victim of terrorism."
He added, "We have lost over 60,000 lives and suffered huge economic losses in our fight against terrorism; we are fighting this war as an imperative not as an option."
"The successfully ongoing military Operation Zarb-i-Azb is in its final phase and the National Action Plan (NAP) has been launched to deal with the threat of violent extremism and radicalisation," the Prime Minister said.
"We are committed to take strongest possible action against all terrorists and extremists without any exception."
During the meeting, Boris Johnson expressed his appreciation for the the leadership role of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said, "Britain will continue to be the champion of Pakistan in its region," adding that Pakistan's endeavours for regional peace and stability are "exemplary".
He termed the CPEC "a landmark and fantastic dream being translated into reality," and appreciated PM Nawaz's efforts for achieving macroeconomic stability, saying Britain "will support Pakistan in the GSP Plus scheme."
The British foreign secretary congratulated the PM on the passage of the honour-killing bill, referring to it as remarkable achievement of the present government.
Johnson said his first visit to Pakistan was an 'eye-opener'.
"Pakistan is indeed a wonderful country having great and dynamic people, and offering fantastic opportunities to the international investors," he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also met British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during his visit to Islamabad.
Imran called upon the British envoy at the British embassy. A tweet from PTI's official account later posted a picture of the opposition leader with Johnson.
The two can be seen sharing a light moment and taking a selfie together.