Pak, UK to initiate ‘enhanced strategic dialogue’ during Cameron’s Islamabad trip

April 3rd, 2011 - 12:18 pm ICT by ANI  

David Cameron Islamabad, April 3(ANI): Pakistan and the United Kingdom will initiate an ‘enhanced strategic dialogue’ when British Prime Minister David Cameron visits Islamabad for a one-day trip on Tuesday.

Cameron is scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other leading political figures in Pakistan, the Dawn reports.

Besides holding the inaugural session of the dialogue, whose format envisages an annual summit and bi-annual Foreign Minister-level talks, Pakistan and Britain will also sign a declaration to formalise the upgradation of the engagement.

While Britain has already announced doubling of its development aid over the next four years, which will make Pakistan the highest recipient of British aid by 2015, getting an annual assistance of 446 million pounds, Cameron is expected to announce further aid in education and health, according to the report.

The start of the new phase of bilateral engagement points to a major progress in ties that saw quite a few lows over the past couple of years- beginning with visa woes, terrorism concerns and, more lately, the Tories’ tougher line with Islamabad on a number of matters.

Notwithstanding London’s lingering concerns about extremism, governance and the security of nuclear arsenal in Pakistan and the government’s poor progress on its reforms agenda, relations with Islamabad have remained a high foreign policy agenda for the UK government.

The 2010 Human Rights and Democracy report by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which painted a dismal picture of Pakistan in critical areas, however, was not much helpful in improving the atmospherics ahead of the start of the enhanced dialogue.

According to the report, the year 2010 was extremely challenging for Pakistan, and its democratic government was marred by corruption, lack of transparency and lawlessness.

The report also referred to continued and serious allegations of disappearances, abductions and extra-judicial killings made against Pakistani security forces and police by both local and international human rights organisations. It also blasted the justice system in Pakistan, and said that the sector was ‘under-trained, often politicised, corrupt and under resourced’.

However, the report was dismissed by the Foreign Office as a worthless and skewed document that omitted the ‘positives’ of the Pakistani society. (ANI)

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