Terrorism and extremism biggest threat for Pakistan, says British envoy designate

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London, Feb. 17 (ANI): British High Commissioner-Designate to Pakistan Sir Thomas Drew has acknowledged that terrorism and extremism are the biggest threats to the security and stability of Pakistan, adding that Britain would extend all possible cooperation to minimize this menace, which is not in the interest of both countries.

Drew is to scheduled to leave for Islamabad on Thursday to take the charge of his new assignment, reports The Nation.

Addressing Pakistani media at the FCO in London yesterday, he said that Pakistan has suffered a lot due to this peril and it is the high time that Pakistan should be supported in a way that it can end the hazard and march towards prosperity and stability.

“Pakistan has great potential and is a country of full resources which should be utilized for the people of the country. UK can make difference by bringing international support for Pakistan,” he said.

“The 2018 general elections in Pakistan would be very important and critical – a chance further to strengthen democracy and democracy’s institutions and a source to put the country on the way of political and democratic strength which we all want to see”, he said expressing his satisfaction over the prevailing democratic atmosphere within the country.

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The press briefing was held at a time when MQM leaders and activists were holding hunger-strike outside the 10-Downing Street, to protest a ban on the media coverage of speeches and other activities of their leader Altaf Hussain in Pakistan.

Drew avoided giving direct response to a volley of questions regarding MQM, money laundering, deportation of MQM leader Altaf Hussain and murder of Dr. Imran Farooq and merely diplomatically briefed the journalists.

“British police are absolutely independent and enjoy free hand in cases. The course of investigation, legal procedures and justice would take continue taking place in their time and as a diplomat I can say only this,” was the answer by him.

Four journalists asked the questions regarding MQM and one journalist went to this extent that he asked why the British Government does not deport Altaf Hussain. He is enjoying here for the last 22 years despite a number of cases have been registered against him in Pakistan.

Drew said that he was looking forward to visiting Pakistan, adding that he had already visited the Asian nation around 10 years back.

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“I feel hugely privileged to have been appointed to the job. Nearly ten years ago, I moved to Pakistan for the first time, to be the Political Counsellor in the British High Commission. I became a great friend of the country and its people. I feel a great sense of energy at going back,” he said.

“I am energised at seeing old friends the prospect of discovering more of the beautiful country, but mostly by prospect of doing work which is so important for both our countries. Pakistan matters to the UK and, I like to think, the UK matters to Pakistan: for each other’s security, regional stability and for each other’s prosperity,” he added.

Referring to the Pakistani Diaspora, he said that central to that are the 1.5 million British people of Pakistani origin who have made the UK their home.

“I saw that at first hand when I visited British Pakistani community leaders in Bradford last week. We are like a family. Our human, cultural and historical links mean that our relationship is long term. It is broad as well as deep. Our problems are shared. So is our potential,” he said.

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“I want British businesses too to play a part in the growth of Pakistan’s economy. Though trade between our two countries increased 12 percent in 2014, it is still lower than it should be between such important partners. I will do what I can to change that,”he added.

He also praised Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, terming him as excellent.

The British High Commissioner designate said; “I want to continue to nurture the human links between our two countries. This is the foundation for everything else. Culture, language and sport matter. And what a better way to start than to have the Pakistan cricket team tour the United Kingdom this summer. Don’t be surprised if you find that ‘urgent business’ brings me back to the UK suspiciously near to those matches.

“To me, in short, a great job in a great country. There is a lot to do, and I am really looking forward to getting going,” he emphasized. (ANI)

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