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'UK will stand by Pakistan through thick and thin'

Source: PTI
July 10, 2009 01:28 IST
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Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday asked the world community to help the country in the crucial process of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the militancy-hit areas in the northwest.

During a meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Gilani said the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction would start with displaced people from the Malakand division returning to their homes from July 13.

Gilani also underlined the need to build the capacity of law enforcement agencies to fill the vacuum which would be created by the withdrawal of armed forces from militancy-hit areas.

He said promises made by the world community to equip and provide funding for the law enforcement agencies are yet to be fulfilled.

He noted that a substantial portion of aid pledged by Britain to Pakistan for 2009-2012 was for education and health and said this will help his government in improving the socio-economic infrastructure in North West Frontier Province and tribal areas.

Responding to Miliband's offer of deputing an expert to implement the education policy of Pakistan, Gilani apprised him of his governments plans to introduce reforms in madrassas.

He also welcomed the offer of British assistance in this regard. Gilani also said that granting enhanced market access to Pakistani products by Britain and European Union countries is crucial to help Pakistan overcome the problem of unemployment, especially in the militancy-affected areas.

The premier took up the recent arrest of 10 Pakistani students in Britain on terror charges and expressed the governments concern at their continued detention without "any tangible evidence."

He hoped the students will be released and allowed to complete their studies.

Gilani said while the government has agreed to receive British experts for exploratory talks on a British proposal for signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Deportation With Assurances, Pakistan should not be bracketed with other countries with which Britain had concluded such pacts.

Miliband said he was "convinced of Pakistans genuine need for enhanced market access abroad" and assured Gilani of the British governments support in getting "GSP Plus arrangement from the EU and for starting free trade agreement negotiations."

He reaffirmed the British governments continued support to Pakistan at this critical juncture and said the UK "will stand by Pakistan (through) thick and thin to help it succeed against militancy and terrorism."

Miliband also met President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed bilateral relations and the efforts for relief and rehabilitation of people displaced by anti-militancy operations.

The two leaders also talked on ways and means for the economic turnaround of Pakistan. Zardari said Pakistan's economy "had been bruised by the war against militancy and emphasised the need for access of Pakistani products to US and EU markets."

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