LONDON: Speakers at a dinner hosted on Thursday said that close cooperation between Pakistan and the United Kingdom was playing an important role for promotion of peace and development.
At the lavish dinner, the UK-Pakistani Society thanked Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, for 63 years of his service as its co-patron. The dinner, which brought together many leading figures in UK-Pakistani ties, marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of Pakistan. Held in the Egyptian room of Mansion House, it was one of the Duke of Edinburgh’s last public duties. It was recently announced that the 92-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth would be stepping down from public life.
President Mamnoon Hussain, who is also co-patron of the society, said in a message that the close partnership between the UK and Pakistan “is not only defined by a shared history but also by a shared future of peace, prosperity and development”.
Two former high commissioners, Mark Lyall Grant and Maleeha Lodhi, made keynote speeches.
Ms Lodhi, giving an upbeat assessment of Pakistan’s prospects, said, “the country is moving forward”.
Mr Grant spoke about the UK’s commitment to development issues pointing out that Pakistan is the second largest recipient of UK aid spending and that the effort to improve education standards was the single-largest UK aid project in the world. “It is really producing results,” he said
The Pakistan Society Award 2017 was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh to Dr Syed Babar Ali OBE for services to conservation, government, and UK-Pakistan relations.
Former high commissioner to Pakistan, Sir Nicholas Barrington, said the award was being given to Dr Ali “for the advancement of public knowledge and understanding of Pakistan in the United Kingdom and beyond”.
Former finance minster Dr Syed Babar Ali established the Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1985.
The glittering dinner was also attended by HRH Princess Sarvath El Hassan of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Syed Ibne Abbas, honorary president of the Pakistan Society, said the UK and Pakistan enjoyed a strategic partnership, reinforced by growing people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges.
The guests were given a brochure entitled “Shared History, Shared Future” which included profiles of six distinguished Pakistan women, Madar-i-Millat Fatima Jinnah, Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Zeenat Rashid, Bilquis Bano Edhi, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UN Messenger for Peace Malala Yousafzai.
The UK is among the largest exporters to Pakistan with bilateral trade in goods and services currently worth more than £2 billion a year. There are over 100 British companies operating in Pakistan.
The Pakistan Society, founded in 1951, aims to increase public knowledge in Britain of the arts, history, geography, economic life and institutions of Pakistan. Built between 1739 and 1752, the Mansion House is one of the most splendid dining halls in London. Each year it’s the scene of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Mansion House speech.
The menu consisted of cumin cheesecake with candy beetroot, watermelon, mint and coconut puree, a main course of lamb with rice, roasted vegetables, mint yogurt and coriander chutney and for dessert poached pear and cinnamon panacotta with pistachios, pear gel and what diners reported as a diminutive ginger snap.