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“The Future of EU – Pakistan Relations” A Lecture by EU Commissioner for Development

European Union stands by Pakistan in struggle to combat violent extremists and terrorism as Pakistan has suffered from extremism more than any other country. This was stated by Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development while delivering a lecture on “The Future of EU – Pakistan Relations” at School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

“We need to work together to combat the menace of extremism. The EU is anxious to reach out all those who believe, as Jinnah believed, that it should be possible- even in a state where one religion dominates- to give space and respect to those with different cultural traditions” EU Commissioner for Development said.

Andris Piebalgs said although in Pakistan cooperation with the “West” has become a controversial topic however in Europe, Pakistan’s role in South Asia and in the world is at the top of the political agenda.

“EU monitored and supported the 2008 elections, and offered our full political backing to the new government. “Now we are ready to continue assisting Pakistan in all the areas which are vital for its democratic development. That includes our work with the educational establishments, with police and prosecution services, and with the elected representatives” he added.

EU Commissioner said EU is Pakistan’s most important export market. And over the last five years the European taxpayers have funded, through their government and through the Commission, projects here worth, on average, more than € 300 million a year. There is also humanitarian aid EU has deployed after the earthquakes and floods. Last year EU responded immediately to the flooding, with € 430 million in humanitarian support. In addition, hundreds of millions more were raised by NGOs and private European citizens.

He said Europeans collectively, have interests in this part of the world. He said EU would like to see reconciliation between Pakistan and India we want peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Europe have many common values; we have many common concerns and common interests.

“We want to offer your country a commitment of support for the long term. We would like to build a strong and reliable relationship based on mutual interests. We have already come a long way in advancing our relations since the EU-Pakistan Cooperation Agreement entered into force in 2004. We have reinforced our political dialogue and our Joint Commission now meets on a regular basis. We cooperate in the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” group which is helping to focus international attention on Pakistan’s challenges” he added.

QAU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Masoom Yasinzai in his welcome address said that European Union is not only the economic power house of the world it excels in global governance and human rights. EU- Pakistan relations are multi-layered. It is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and has always provided Pakistan with humanitarian assistance at the time of natural calamities.

He urged the EU Commissioner for development to enable School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad to sign an M.O.U with Oxford School of Politics and International Relations and scholar’s exchange programme with the School of African & Oriental Studies (SOAS).

“This will promote enduring cooperation between EU and Pakistan. Investment in education strengthens the EU objective of democracy promotion and good governance. Q.A.U is the only public sector university in Islamabad, with a true representation of all provinces due to quota system of student enrollment in all of its programmes. Q.A.U considers its relationship with EU valuable & significant at all levels “he added. A large number students and faculty members attended the event.