UK-Pakistan relations: an update

Recently, I met representatives from the Department of International Development (DfID) to discuss the UK’s assistance to help foster Pakistan’s social and economic progress. I was informed that the UK is committed to helping Pakistan harness the skills, talent and productivity of all its population in order to end aid dependency through jobs and growth.

Secretary of State Justine Greening made her second visit to Pakistan at the beginning of July. She reinforced the UK’s strong partnership with Pakistan, encouraged further empowerment for women, greater access to finance through the microfinance sector and emphasised the importance of economic reform.

I was pointed towards a Westminster Hall debate on the International Development Committee’s latest report on Pakistan. The chair of that Committee said:

The Committee wants to make it clear that we have absolutely no hesitation in asserting the fact that the relationship between Britain and Pakistan is fundamental and indissoluble. It is absolutely essential to both countries as a force of history and a current reality. We have more than 1 million people of Pakistani origin living in the United Kingdom, and we have a shared interest in ensuring that Pakistan is a successful country that manages to overcome the challenges that it faces. Secondly, we want to make it clear that, more than anything else, we believe that the United Kingdom should stand with the poorest people of Pakistan and that our objective is to engage in helping them to achieve a better quality of life. That might mean that we will be a candid friend of Pakistan rather than a sycophantic one.

The Government have a perfectly understandable ambition to raise the aid programme—the bilateral funding to Pakistan—from £267 million to £446 million by the end of this Parliament. We completely understand that, but we have some grave reservations about doing it if nothing changes, and that was an essential aspect of our report.

You can read the full debate here and the headline summary of the report is that:

We cannot advocate that the British people finance, through taxation, the proposed substantial increase in development assistance to Pakistan unless there is clear evidence that the newly elected Pakistan Government is also willing to make the necessary changes so as to contribute more to improving the livelihood of its people.

The Government response to the report can be read here.

If you wish to receive the DfID email update on its work in Pakistan you can sign up here.

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