(London Post – PR) : — H.E. Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK delivered a talk on “Pakistan’s Demographic Challenge—What is the role for the UK?” at a dinner jointly hosted by Chief Executive of the British Council Sir Ciaran Devane and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pakistan Mr. Rehman Chishti MP, at the British Parliament on 14 October 2015. Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and a cross-party delegation of 08 MPs were in attendance.
Speaking on the occasion, the High Commissioner said that the biggest demographic challenge of Pakistan was to empower our youth and women through education and skills. To address this challenge, the Government of Pakistan was focused on educating the youth with particular focus on girls’ education. He added that work was also being carried out to standardize and streamline the three strands of educational system in Pakistan i.e. public, private and madrassah.
The High Commissioner appreciated the work of the British Council and UK Department for International Development (DFID), in Pakistan’s education sector and emphasized on the need of expanding this work to further assist Pakistan in capacity building of trainers, teachers and women.
Minister Tobias Ellwood shared his views on the close and friendly Pakistan-UK relations and the role UK could play in finding solutions to Pakistan’s demographic challenge. Recalling his recent visit to Karachi, the Minister pointed out the huge development and investment opportunities in the city. He informed that UK would host a Conference in the coming months to apprise the British businesses to invest in Pakistan as well as encourage the Mayor of London and his team to visit Karachi.
In his remarks, MP Rehman Chishti spoke about the demographic pressures faced by Pakistan due to rapidly growing population. He said that this challenge could be addressed by investing in Pakistan’s youth that would make the country safe and prosperous. He also briefed the guests on the visit of cross-party delegation to Pakistan earlier this year, and hoped that such visits would change the media-driven perceptions about Pakistan.
MP Tasmina Sheikh, who was part of the delegation that visited Pakistan, underscored the value of such parliamentary exchanges through British Council and CPA. MP Andrew Stephenson, former Chair APPG for Pakistan, highlighted the opportunities in Pakistan with growing number of young people and called for greater participation of the youth in political process. MP David Henson, Shadow Foreign Office Minister, emphasized on creating more opportunities for the Pakistani youth to make them useful citizens of the country. The MPs also appreciated the work of DFID in improving primary school enrolment in Punjab from 76% to 95%.
The dinner was organized as a follow up to the visits of Minister Tobias Ellwood and a cross-party delegation of MPs to Pakistan earlier this year. Other attendees included Hannah Bardell MP, Catherine West MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Madeline Moon MP, and officials of the British Council and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).