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Royal couple meet youths, launch business scheme

October 31, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla met some Pakistani youths on Monday at the launch of the Prince’s Youth Business International (YBI) scheme for Pakistan where the couple also saw some local products and listened to some romantic pop songs.

The couple came to the colourful ceremony at the lawns of the Prime Minister’s House after the Prince of Wales held talks with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who, along with his wife, accompanied the visitors when they went round a small exhibition arranged for the occasion.

The YBI project aims to help disadvantaged young people in Pakistan become entrepreneurs.

“For my wife and I, it really is greatest possible joy to be here with you in Pakistan,” said the Prince in remarks on the occasion where he came wearing a grey suit with a maroon, green and yellow striped tie as well as a poppy in the buttonhole to commemorate the end of the World War-I.

“It has taken me very nearly 58 years to reach you and it’s not from want of trying, I can tell you,” he said. Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wore an off-white dress, which included a scarf like the local Dopatta.

“It is a marvellous moment to finally reach this remarkable country and indeed to have the chance of meeting...to see some of the exhibitions of the ways in which Pakistan is developing its industries and also maintaining its great traditions in a contemporary way and also exporting a great deal I suspect to Britain at the same time,” the Prince said.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz used the occasion to draw the Prince’s attention to the “important area” of inter-faith harmony where he said he sincerely believed “a lot can be done for the whole world” with the leadership and interest of the heir to the British throne.

“Today, the bridge and the gap between faiths is widening,” the prime minister said. “This is not good for us but certainly not good for our coming generations. We need to be all embracing and we need to touch the hearts and minds of people irrespective of their faith. We are global citizens and we must think of ourselves as global citizens.”

The prime minister told the Prince that his visit had delighted every Pakistani and voiced thanks for life-saving efforts by British aid workers after last year’s devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

The Prince, who devoted a major part of his speech to the YBI scheme, said the British were lucky to have so many people of Pakistani origin living in Britain.

One of the participants of the programme, Razia Anwar, had travelled from Blackburn, Lancashire, to talk about how a loan of 5,000 pounds sterling helped her set up a beauty company. “It was great to have someone to help you along the way. This will be good for young people of Pakistan.”

The royal couple were presented with gifts including a Chadar, a Chitrali wool cap and a model of a decorated truck as they went along the exhibition stalls. They also seemed to enjoy famous pop stars Hadiqa Kiani and Shehzad Roy who sang one English and one vernacular song each. —Text and photos by Tanveer Shahzad