Islamabad: Mr. Andrew Mitchell, UK’s Secretary of State for International Development, called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani here at the PM House today and said that it would be first smooth civilian transition in Pakistan according to the best practices of parliamentary form of government and the Constitution under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He said that the civilian rule had taken root in Pakistan, which had resulted in the strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan. This development deserves to be appreciated, he said.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said that the present democratic government was committed to the cause of democracy in accordance with the vision the Quaid-e-Azam, Shaheed Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto and would strive to realize the dream in its entirety.
The Prime Minister said that there was no political prisoner in Pakistan, adding that his government would bring Accountability Bill in Parliament with consensus.
While talking about relations with the neighbouring countries, the Prime Minister said that the federal Cabinet took a unanimous decision yesterday to normalize trade relations with India, which would give impetus to trade between the two countries.
The Prime Minister said that he had a number of meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the latest one was held in Maldives where both the Prime Ministers in a joint press conference expressed the resolve to settle all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Prime Minister referred to his recent meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which he made an appeal to Pakistan to help him in the Afghan reconciliation process. Conceding to the request of the Afghan President, “I appealed to all factions of Taliban to support the President in his endeavours to bring about peace through reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
The Prime Minister appreciated the UK’s support for GSP plus status for Pakistan and also lauded UK’s assistance in the development of Pakistan’s social sector especially primary education and maternal healthcare. The Prime Minister asked the British government to partner with the government of Pakistan to work for the uplift and development of the FATA region, which, he said, was an equally deserving case because the region’s health and education infrastructure was destroyed by the terrorists.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell said that the British government was keenly looking forward to the bilateral visit of Prime Minister Gilani to UK this May under Enhanced Strategic Dialogue. He highly appreciated Pakistan’s decision to normalize trade relations with India, adding that it would benefit the people of both countries including ‘positive impact on the borders.’
The British Secretary for International Development commended the Prime Minister for taking bold initiative to support the Afghan peace process.
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Mrs. Hina Rabbani Khar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and officials of the concerned ministries were present in the occasion. The British side consisted of Sir Michael Barber, Special Representative for Education in Pakistan, Mr. Mark Bowman, DG DFID, and Mr. Richard Parr, Special Advisor to the British Secretary for International Development.
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