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Terrorism a huge challenge for Pakistan to deal with: UK

31 January, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Newly appointed British High Commissioner to Pakistan Philip Barton on Thursday described terrorism a big challenge for Pakistan and pledged to work jointly with the militancy-torn country to cope with the challenge.

The British envoy also pointed finger at 'weak' judicial system in Pakistan which is often exploited by the terrorists elements to skip the clutches of law. "We are helping Pakistan to make its judicial system effective so that arrested terrorists get convicted," Barton told journalists at a reception at the British High Commission. The British diplomat outlined his agenda during the expected three-year stay in Pakistan. "I will work to enhance Pak-UK cooperation in the fight against terrorism, education and trade."

He said it had been agreed during British prime minister's visit to Pakistan that measures would be taken to enhance bilateral trade volume to 3 billion pounds by the year 2015. He said Britain would continue helping Pakistan in this sector. "UK and European markets are open for Pakistan, particularly after getting GSP Plus status," he added. The high commissioner said his country is sponsoring a good programme for promotion of education. He said his government wants to upgrade standard of education in Pakistan.

Barton said he would work to reinvigorate the multi-faceted relationship between the two countries. He praised Pakistani journalists for playing a proactive role in a very difficult time where they even faced life threats. "You shine, you hold people to account. I would welcome the media spotlight," he said and added, "When my colleagues asked me what had changed in Pakistan, I told them the media had changed. It has become vibrant and this is a good thing to happen in this country."

Phillip Barton has succeeded Adam Thomson, who left Islamabad last month. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1986. His last posting was as Deputy Head of Mission in Washington. He has held a number of positions dealing with South Asian issues, including Director of Foreign Policy and Afghanistan/Pakistan Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office as part of the Secretariat supporting the National Security Council; Additional Director for South Asia in the FCO; and a posting in New Delhi. He served as private secretary to prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair.

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