Boris wants UK firms part of CPEC activities

Published November 26, 2016
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meets with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif at his home in Lahore.— Reuters
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meets with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif at his home in Lahore.— Reuters

LAHORE: Britain Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson has termed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a wonder project and desires UK firms to participate in its various construction activities.

“I am very excited about the CPEC idea. And I would like UK firms to participate in the construction of this fabulous venture,” Mr Johnson said while speaking to students and faculty of the Government College University (GCU) here on Friday. “But this should be part of an even more ambitious vision that would revive the ancient Silk route and see the rebirth of trading caravans connecting East and West,” he added.

On a day-long visit to Lahore as a part of his ongoing tour to Pakistan, Mr Johnson said Karachi was even bigger than Lahore with 23 million people, the 6th largest city in the world. “History and location suggest that Karachi should be one of Asia’s biggest trading entrepot alongside Singapore or Shanghai.

Boris Johnson delivers a speech in the main hall of the Government College University.— Reuters
Boris Johnson delivers a speech in the main hall of the Government College University.— Reuters

“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 said.Appreciating development in various sectors, the British foreign secretary said Pakistan had made a huge progress in recent past. “National security has improved and democracy strengthened. 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 continue to face a grave threat from terrorism. He said he felt that as a result, this nation’s ambition had too often been held back by rivalry and mistrust. And coming here today, and talking to people, I am increasingly confident and that this will change. “My message to you all is that Britain wants to be with you to make this journey. I believe that bilateral trade between our two countries – just £2.7 billion – is not enough given our closeness,” he said.

Mr Johnson said one reason why he was in favour of leaving the EU was that he wanted Britain to widen the horizons of our foreign policy and reinforce our ties with our friends across the world, including Pakistan. “We are not leaving Europe. We will always be part of Europe. I want a global Britain to play an even stronger role on the world stage, maximising our assets as the fifth biggest economy in the world and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,” he said. The British secretary of state said next year he looks forward to celebrating Pakistan’s 70th anniversary of independence. There is a huge interest in the British Parliament and government in making our relationship even closer. “I want a much more dynamic relationship. And I am excited by the opportunities created by trade and commerce, which should be the central pillars of our friendship, as befits Pakistan’s location at the heart of Asia,” he said.

Earlier, the GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah welcomed Mr Johnson, took him to a tour of the campus and apprised him about the traditions and excellence of 153 years old educational institution and its role in development of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn November 26th, 2016

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