The future of the relationship between Pakistan and the UK

A conversation with Simon Shercliff and Hassan Abbas: the future of the relationship between Pakistan and the UK (October 16, 2009)
UK in the USA, October 16, 2009

On October 14, 2009, Simon Shercliff, First Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington with responsibility for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Hassan Abbas, a Senior Adviser to Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former Pakistani government official, met to discuss the complexities of Pakistan's relationship with its neighbors, and to explore the UK Government's commitment to Pakistan and the region at large.

Shercliff, noting the "strategic nexis" between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, began the conversation affirming the British Government's interest in seeing a "long term strategic discussion" between India and Pakistan, ultimately leading to a "warming of the relationship."

Referencing a recent trip to Pakistan, Dr Abbas noted that the Pakistani people have shown "a lot of appreciation" for British support, particularly in assistance setting up government entities to combat terrorism. "The support for a national counter-terrorism authority will be a really great step," said Abbas. "Ultimately, this whole fight against militants and its fate will be decided on whether Pakistan's law enforcement and police are capable."

Simon noted that a "long term, comprehensive, whole of government look at capturing extremists" would require Pakistan to engage in a spectrum of initiatives - education reform, building roads and hospitals in addition to law enforcement and good governance, and wondered how other countries might lend support in these areas.

Abbas agreed, saying that "developing capacity for good governance is central and it is crucial." Dr Abbas felt that the UK could promote scholarships and training opportunities - for instance, in advanced law enforcement fields like forensic science, where Pakistan has a demonstrated need. Pakistani citizens at all levels need to see the benefit of accepting aid from countries like the United States and Great Britain, not simply the country's leadership or political elite. Building a hospital or a library, Abbas noted - institutions that help ordinary people - is a symbol of friendship that is much stronger than military support.

"People in Pakistan cherish their relationship with Britain," Abbas concluded. "The old, strong relationship there should be benefited from."

To listen to the interview, click here

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