ISLAMABAD: Foreign Mini­s­­ter Ishaq Dar in his first telephonic conversation with his Bri­­­tish counterpart David Cam­e­ron emphasised the need for ‘Enhanced Strategic Partner­s­hip’ between the two countries.

A media statement issued by the Foreign Office on Mr Cameron’s telephone call said, “The Foreign Minister emphasised the early conclusion of the Enhanced Strategic Partner­ship (ESP) agreement to take relations to the next level”.

Mr Cameron called Mr Dar days after he returned from London, which he visited on his way back from Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels last week.

In London, Mr Dar had met UK Minister of State for South Asia and Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, and with the Minister of State for Develop­ment, Andrew Mitchell at the Foreign Com­monwealth and Development Office.

In conversation with Cameron, Dar stresses need for early resumption of PIA flights

In calling for the ESP agreement, Mr Dar echoed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who had in his meeting with British envoy Jane Marriott last week also called for the conclusion of ESP.

PM Sharif had been pushing this idea for boosting ties with UK since his last term in office.

Pakistan and UK have been engaged in Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) since 2011, which has deepened and broadened the dialogue between the two countries, covering areas such as trade, economic growth and development, cultural cooperation, security, and education. Islamabad now wants to take the relationship a notch higher.

UK has strategic partnerships with a number of countries, which are aimed at fostering closer relations across a wide range of areas including trade, investment, defense, security, technology, and tackling global issues like climate change.

These partnerships are tailored to the unique relationship that the UK has with each partner country, focusing on areas of mutual interest and benefit.

The Foreign Office said, “The foreign minister stressed the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, people to people contacts and climate”.

In a Twitter post after the con­­versation, Mr Dar wrote, “We … resolved to continue working closely to further enh­ance strong bilateral cooperation”.

The foreign minister, in his conversation, stressed the need for early resumption of PIA flights between Pakistan and the UK for strengthening linkages, particularly in view of the large Pakistani diaspora in the UK.

The UK has been working with Pakistan on technical iss­ues for the resumption of flights.

Mr Dar had during his meetings in London assured the British ministers that Pakistan government will address all technical issues at the earliest, to enable the resumption

of flights. Mr Dar also invited Mr Cameron to visit Pakistan.

The British foreign secretary’s initial communication with Pakistan’s new government had not gone well as his greetings tweet was not received well in Islamabad.

He had in his message advi­s­­ed that the new government “must work for all Pakistan’s ci­­tizens and deliver crucial reforms”.

Cameron had also raised “serious concerns” over the “fairness and lack of inclusivity” of Feb 8 elections.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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