“………Pakistan society has a role to play in bringing the two countries together. Relations between Pakistan and UK have never been better and I can say that with conviction. I have been in politics for last thirty -two years, whether in government or in opposition. Relations have never been better. Prime Minister Cameron on his visit to Pakistan in June 2013, in fact he was the first head of government to visit to Pakistan and he made that very important statement.
He said that friends of Pakistan are friends of UK and enemies of Pakistan are enemies of United Kingdom. Now the relationship cannot be more defining than that. So within that prospective, there is so much space which needs to be occupied, which needs to covered, which needs to be somehow identified. And I think you, as important figures in your respective professions, can play a very important role. I will be asking the High Commission here to provide you the space, provide you the mandate, in fact I have also suggested to the High commissioner that once our new counselor office is ready, a permanent office should be provided to Pakistan society in that counselor office so that you could work on daily basis I will talk to the Prime Minister once I am back in Pakistan and may be we can have a similar office back in Pakistan so that you interact on a day-to-day basis. You don’t have to go through Pakistan High Commission or through various ministries, you can communicate with the Pakistan government directly. So the sky is the limit to which Pakistan and UK relations can flourish and sky is the limit to which the Pakistan society can play a role.
Let me also give you a brief background of what is happening in Pakistan. I am sure you would be seeing it through your television screen, or reading about it in papers. But the fact of the matter is that if you want to see the improvement that has occurred in Pakistan, you have to visit Pakistan. We are guests. Come and see for yourself, the development, whether the economy, in the energy sector, in security, in the social sector– the development has taken place over the last few years. The situation is not ideal, there is scope for lot of improvement. We are endeavoring to try and focus on the two high priorities of our government– security and economy. This is how it started in June 2013 when we took control of the government after the elections of May 2013. The first and foremost priority was to put focus on the internal security of Pakistan. When we took over in June 2013 the security was in a mess. Don’t go by my figures, just check the record as to what was happening in June , July, May 2013 in Pakistan. There was an average of 6 to 7 terrorist attacks in the length and the breath of the country on a daily basis.
In one year alone there were more than 2000 attacks taking place in Pakistan on a regular basis. We in the government felt that nothing was possible until the security situation was addressed. So it was in that context that All Parties Conference was held. We took the military on board, we took the intelligence agencies on board, the entire establishment and we decided that as a first option, we must try for a peaceful solution of the problem, engagement with the militants through dialogue process.
Now the dialogue process was important not only because we wanted to address the problem by peaceful means but because for optics. It was important to address the apprehensions not of the militants but hundreds and thousands of their facilitators, their helpers, their supporters within Pakistan. For eight long months, we involved ourselves in the dialogue process. But when we saw that militants were playing a double game, on one hand they were negotiating with us, on the other they were continuing to target our cities, our towns, our market places, our schools. We decided to exercise the other option. So it was in this environment that Zarb-i-Azb, the military operation, was started the dialogue process was also started or initiated through All Parties Conference in which all the political parties supported the dialogue process. Once we decided to go for military option, again All Parties Conference was called and consensus was evolved on the issue.
Over the last two years–one and a half year actually– since the army operation was started, let me clarify that it was not just merely the military operation. The Military operation took place in FATA, on the border of Pakistan, but the main the security framework was put into place in the main cities and town of the country . We call it the Integrated Security Mechanism in which we have a three layered system of security. The first line of defence is Police.
They are supported supplemented by civil armed forces which include the Rangers and the Frontier Corps. And then the third line of the defence are the armed forces. On the start of it, we had 30 thousand military men as rapid response force in all the cities, now it has come down to 10 thousand. But at the same time, the intelligence agencies were activated and in the last one and a half year, 14000 intelligence based operations have taken place in Pakistan. And that has helped to a great extent in not only identifying facilitators of the militant and the terrorist but also putting them in the dock, putting them in jails, identifying them, creating a databank. And had the state been more aware of which citizen of Pakistan stands where so that has been a huge help in addressing the security situation in Pakistan. I was explaining you the background because one and half year down the line as of today, from an average of 5,6, or 7 terrorist attacks on daily basis, now we have weeks, sometime we have months in which not a single terrorist incident takes place. So it is huge improvement this year alone, these has been a decrease of 54% in terrorist attacks over the last 8 years. There was a decrease last year of 38%. Again there is a decrease in fatalities by over 40%. Suicide bombing have gone down by 31% and most of the terrorist activities now have been restricted to FATA and the war zone where the military operation is actually taking place. Yes, off and on, these militants do seem to sneak out into the centre of the country, the incident which took place in Punjab a couple of week ago or three week ago. The war against militancy and terrorism is not over. But there is a sea change in the security situation in Pakistan. And because of the improvement in the security situation that provides incentives or increase in economic activities. Mr. Sajid javed talked about increasing economic cooperation between Pakistan and UK, I think the bottom line is improving security and we are endeavoring to do just that. CPEC, some of you might have heard is a very ambitious development project which can change the entire country not only economically but politically and geo-strategically. It is a $46 billion project spread over about 2 years which will provide China, Central Asian Republics and even to some extent even Afghanistan. A corridor through which, which will pass through Pakistan, there will be two corridors within Pakistan and those corridor will then link the road and rail network to the see in this case Gwadar. And it has huge potential for the country. UK companies are involved in CPEC project. Any business opportunity, anybody looking for business opportunity in Pakistan , I would suggest that you look at CPEC project and you will see scores of business opportunities for any would-be investor who is interested in investing in Pakistan. So there has been huge change our last two and a half year and we hope that we will continue to build on the achievements so far. As I have said at the outset, the war has not been won yet. The militant and their network have been eliminated within Pakistan but some of them have crossed the border. Unfortunately they continue to operate, across the border, within Pakistan and outside Pakistan but naturally their reach is limited. In case where they are across the border their reach is limited to the areas on the both sides of the border.
But we are also engaged in that context of trying and sealing our border, trying and protecting our borders. It is a difficult process but we are trying our utmost to try and ensure that infiltration across the border by the militants does not take place. This is a brief overview of the security perspective of Pakistan. I think a lot of other things, whether it is economic activity, whether it is our energy sector, they are linked to an improved security situation.
So let me assure you, those of you who have not had a chance to visit Pakistan personally that there is a huge improvement in the security situation. We hope that you will come and visit us. Anybody needing official or diplomatic support, the High Commission is there to give you guidance, to give you support to identify areas in which cooperation can take place and I hope you will seize that opportunity. I think Pakistan and United Kingdom have historically had extremely good relations. We should try and build on it. We should try to utilize the opportunities which are awaiting us in our two respective countries. I hope Pakistan Society provides the linkages in more than one way in bringing the two countries closer. I would like to thank Pakistan Society and all the honoured guests for their attention.