Thu, Oct 17, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Prince William talks of UK’s bonds with Pakistan during visit

Reuters, ISLAMABAD

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, meets Britain’s Prince William, right, and his wife Kate, center, in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

Britain’s Prince William said that the UK and Pakistan share “unique bonds” in a speech at the country’s national monument in Islamabad on Tuesday night, during a five-day visit with his wife, Kate.

William spoke of the warm welcome and delicious food they had experienced in Pakistan after arriving on Monday night and visiting school children and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“The UK and Pakistan share unique bonds and so it will always be in our best interests for you to succeed,” William said at the event hosted by the British High Commission, adding that 1.5 million people living in the UK had Pakistani heritage and the UK was one of Pakistan’s top investors.

“You can rely on us to keep playing an important role as a key partner and your friend,” he said.

Foreign policy experts and officials have said the trip, the first by a British royal family member in more than a decade and made at the request of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, represented a soft power push, which might help both sides further their diplomatic aims.

It comes as Britain seeks to reinvigorate its foreign relationships as the deadline looms for its departure from the EU, while Pakistan works to repair its global image to boost tourism and investment.

William also mentioned the looming challenge of climate change to Pakistan, as well as the importance of women having access to education, two themes of a trip that has been described by palace officials as the most complex the couple have undertaken due to security issues.

Earlier in the day the couple met Khan, a former international cricket star who the prince played cricket with in London as a child, at his official residence.

William’s mother, Diana, a hugely popular figure in Pakistan, visited Pakistan several times in the 1990s and helped Khan raise money for a cancer hospital.

“While welcoming the royal couple, Prime Minister Imran Khan recalled the love and affection among the people of Pakistan for Princess Diana, because of her compassion as well as commitment to support charitable causes,” Khan’s office said in a statement.

He also brought up geopolitical issues such as India’s decision to revoke the autonomy of its portion of the disputed region of Kashmir in August and attempts to secure peace in Afghanistan.

Earlier William and Kate met students at an Islamabad Model College for Girls, discussing education with a group of older students and visiting the classrooms of younger students to admire their drawings.

While visiting the school a 14-year-old student told William she and other students were “big fans” of Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997.

“Oh that’s very sweet of you. I was a big fan of my mother too,” he said.

They then visited the Margalla Hills National Park on the edge of Islamabad, which is under threat from poaching, wildfires, invasive species and littering.

William and Kate yesterday morning flew to Chitral, as they headed to Pakistan’s northern mountains and glaciers to draw attention to the challenges of climate change in the nation.

They were to view a melting glacier and meet with local communities faced with the impact of a damaged environment.

The couple’s visit concludes tomorrow.

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