Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in a meeting with five-member UK Delegation led by Sir Peter Ricketts National Security Advisor, at PM House in Islamabad on Tuesday. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, reiterating support to Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process, said on Tuesday an independent, prosperous, stable and sovereign Afghanistan was in Pakistan's interest.

He, however, emphasised that Pakistan did not want an Afghan solution that could destabilise Pakistan as was the case last time when three million Afghan refugees took shelter in Pakistan and were still in Pakistan.

Talking to a five-member UK delegation led by Sir Peter Ricketts, National Security Advisor here at the Prime Minister House, Gilani said Pakistan wants early return of the Afghan refugees with honour and dignity.

The prime minister said an Afghan delegation would visit Pakistan soon. He said his government would extend full cooperation in the investigation of the gruesome murder of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani who was a great friend of Pakistan and said his murder was a setback to the peace process.

The meeting, part of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the UK also discussed other components including counter-terrorism cooperation, trade and commerce relations, financial macro economic stabilisation, development assistance and cultural cooperation.

PM Gilani recalled his meetings and joint press interaction with the British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Commonwealth Summit in Perth along with Canadian prime minister and Australian and Nigerian presidents regarding polio eradication initiative.

The prime minister appreciated the assistance of the UK particularly in the field of health and education that would go a long way to help Pakistan meet the millennium development goals.

The PM mentioned that the Council of Common Interests (CCI,) representing all the provinces including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, had passed a unanimous resolution on setting the national standards for education and enhancing budget for education.

The prime minister was appreciative of the British assistance in the development of the economy and said the UK was one of the biggest foreign investors in Pakistan and cooperation in various sectors of economy was progressing well.

The PM complimented the UK for generous financial assistance during the natural calamities this year, as well as in 2010 and in 2005.

Sir Ricketts appreciated the role of Pakistan in the war on terror adding that economic stability was necessary to effectively work as a bulwark against the tide of terrorism.

He said his country would continue cooperating Pakistan in multiple fields as envisaged in the Strategic Partnership.

The British delegation appreciated the recent improvement in India-Pakistan relations observing that a surge in trade relations would definitely enable Pakistan to offset the fast approaching global recession which has already engulfed many countries of the developed world.

He said economic security was assuming added significance in the international diplomatic and inter-state relations.

The prime minister was assisted by the Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, DG ISI Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

The British Security Advisor Sir Peter Ricketts was assisted by General Sir David Richards, Chief of Defence Staff, Sir John Sawers, Chief of SIS (MI-6), Ambassador Mark Sedwill, UK's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and British High Commissioner Adam Thomson.


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