UK Time: 01:33

PK Time: 05:33

Pak UK Relations

Pakistan and the UK maintain cordial relations rooted in history and shared legacy, which are reinforced by regular high-level interactions and strong people-to-people contacts. The UK is Pakistan’s largest European trading, investment, and development partner. It is also one of Pakistan’s leading development assistance partners. The UK has one of the largest Pakistani diasporas in Europe, estimated at over 1.6 million.

High-level interactions

Regular high-level interactions take place between the two countries. Recently, in May 2022, Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a telephonic interaction. The two leaders discussed a number of issues, including trade, the human rights situation in Afghanistan and the Ukraine conflict. Hailing the friendly bilateral relationship characterized by close people-to-people contacts, the two leaders agreed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pak-UK relations this year in a befitting manner.

On the side-lines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali in June 2022, Pakistan’s Minister of State for foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar met with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s Minister of State for South Asia. Other high-level bilateral interactions are given below:

Recent visits from the UK to Pakistan include:

  • Visit of the Royal Couple, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in October 2019.
  • Visit of former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to Pakistan in September 2021 as part of his wider visit of the region following the takeover of Kabul by Taliban.
  • Visit of the UK’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon in June 2021.
  • Visit of Minister of State for the Armed Forces in the UK’s Ministry of Defence, James Heappey, in May 2022.
  • Visit of the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury in February 2022.

Recent visits from Pakistan to the UK include:

  • Visit of Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail in April 2022.
  • Visit of Federal Minister for Education & Professional Training Rana Tanveer Hussain in April 2022.
  • Visit of Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar in May 2022
  • Visit of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in September 2021.
  • Visit of former Federal Minister for Education & Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood, in July 2021.
  • Visit of former Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi in December 2021.
  • Visit of former Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar in Nov./Dec. 2021.
  • Visit of Malik Amin Aslam, former SAPM on Climate Change and former Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul in November 2021 to attend the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.
  • Visit of former Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir, in October 2021.

Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD)

The institutional mechanism of the “Enhanced Strategic Dialogue” was established in 2011. So far four rounds of the ESD have been held. The 5th ESD review is due to be held in Islamabad.

Trade Relations

Even after its withdrawal from the EU, the UK continues to provide Pakistan’s exports access to its market at zero tariff under the Enhanced Trade Framework, the post-Brexit successor to EU’s GSP. The UK is Pakistan’s largest export destination in Europe and third largest export destination globally. In 2021, total bilateral trade witnessed an increase of 27%, rising from US$2.337 billion in the year ending 31st Dec. 2020 to US$2.974 billion in the year ending 31st Dec. 2021.

Remittances from the UK

Remittances from the UK to Pakistan have witnessed substantial growth recently, with figures showing an increase of 35% from US$3.209 billion in the year ending 31st Dec. 2020 to around US$4.337 billion in the year ending 31st Dec. 2021. The UK is also among the top sources of investment in Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs).

UK FDI in Pakistan

The UK is the second largest overseas investor in Pakistan with cumulative investment till date of more than US$10 billion), British FDI in Pakistan is in sectors such as financial services, oil & gas exploration, petroleum refining, electricity generation, pharmaceutical, publishing, industrial chemicals and cement.

Pakistani students in the UK

The UK is a popular international destination for Pakistani students pursuing higher education. The number of students from Pakistan in UK universities during the academic year 2020-21 was 12,975, an increase of around 66% over the academic year 2019-20 when it stood at 7,830.