UK royal couple leaves after five-day trip to Pakistan

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Islamabad: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, pet golden Labrador puppies Salto and Sky as they visit an Army Canine Centre on Friday. Britain provides support to a programme that trains dogs to identify explosive devices.—Reuters
Islamabad: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, pet golden Labrador puppies Salto and Sky as they visit an Army Canine Centre on Friday. Britain provides support to a programme that trains dogs to identify explosive devices.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton returned to the United Kingdom after completing their five-day trip to Pakistan.

The British High Commission, in a statement announcing the completion of the royal visit, said: “Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge concluded their five-day visit to Pakistan today. ... During their trip the Duke and Duchess have seen the many sides of the modern, aspirational, dynamic Pakistan — from the vibrant, leafy Islamabad to the cultural capital Lahore, from the fragile to the remote communities in the mountainous north.”

It was the first royal visit from Britain to Pakistan in 13 years, which took place on the request of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for strengthening Pak-UK ties.

On the final day of the trip, the royal couple returned to Islamabad following an unplanned night stay in Lahore after last night’s thunderstorm in the federal capital prevented their flight from landing here.

Prince William and Kate had left Lahore on Thursday evening on board Royal Air Force Voyager jet, but by the time they reached Islamabad the weather had turned very bad. The pilot made two botched attempts to land at different airports before returning to Lahore.

The royal couple’s planned visit to Khyber Pass then had to be cancelled because of shortage of time.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge before their departure visited Army Canine Centre, which breeds and trains Arms and Explosive Search (AES) dogs to assist in the discovery of explosive devices.

“The Duke and Duchess joined UK and Pakistani expert dog handlers as they trained dogs to find explosive materials by scent. They also took some of the puppies through their paces on an agility training course,” the British High Commission statement said.

Speaking to reporters at the Canine Centre, Prince William emphasised the importance of security ties between Pakistan and the UK. He said: “Actually what happens here in Pakistan directly correlates to what happens on the streets of the UK.”

He further said: “We are involved with the Pakistanis for a very good reason; it will actually keep people safe back in the UK.” He also called for acknowledging sacrifices rendered by Pakistanis in the fight against terrorism.

In an interview with CNN, Kate described the visit as “fantastic”. She said: “We’ve seen a lot of Pak­istan, a huge variety. It was amazing seeing some of the geography, but then to see the communities like this has been really special.”

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019