Below is the text of Mr Major’s arrival statement in Pakistan, made on Sunday 12th January 1997.
I am delighted to be visiting Pakistan at the start of your Golden Jubilee. Over those years, the United Kingdom has proved itself one of Pakistan’s leading friends and supporters; and I am glad to have this opportunity to reaffirm the importance we attached to our relationship. The United Kingdom is committed to supporting Pakistan’s development as a prosperous liberal and democratic Islamic state. As long-standing partners, we know each other well, and work well together.
Pakistan is currently passing through a period of political change. It is not my purpose, or my business to make observations on the present election campaign. But I am pleased to note that elections are due on 3 February, as originally announced, and in accordance with the Constitution. I wish all the parties contesting the elections well. Britain, like other members of the international community will be sending observers to watch the election process.
I have come to Pakistan with my colleague Ian Lang, the President of the Board of Trade, and a team of senior British businessmen. They have come because they recognise Pakistan as a market of promise, with the highest average GDP growth in South Asia over the last 15 years, and perhaps the region’s most liberal and deregulated economy. Some of the companies they represent have long-term investments here already; others are looking at the opportunities.
Over the last two years, British companies have invested more in Pakistan than has any other country: concrete evidence of our commitment to Pakistan’s market. Bilateral trade is now worth over billion US dollars annually, up nearly 50 per cent since 1990. The UK is poised to become Pakistan’s top overseas investor. What British businessmen will continue to be looking for are sound and determined economic policies and a prospect of real returns including over the medium-term.
We have other links too. We work closely together in administering one of the UK’s largest overseas aid programmes, focused particularly on the development of employment. We have an extensive series of cultural exchanges, which will be particularly active in this 50th anniversary year. And we have the strongest ties of all between our communities: nearly 1 per cent of the British population are of Pakistani origin.
So I much look forward to my visit. Times such as these are the true test of friendship. That between the UK and Pakistan has proved itself repeatedly over the last 50 years. I fully expect that it will continue to do so. One such opportunity is now. It is a pleasure and an honour to be here.