LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif participated in roundtable sessions on various topics in the British Council Headquarters in London on Wednesday.

The sessions were also attended by vice chancellors of leading British universities, as well as academic experts. During the sessions, exchange of views took place on exploring possibilities of opening campuses of British universities Punjab, along with enabling students of different universities of Punjab to study in the UK.

A number of suggestions and proposals on enhancing collaboration between the Punjab Energy Research and Development Centre and British universities were also reviewed on this occasion.

The participants of the roundtable sessions expressed their interest in promoting research in the energy sector in Punjab, along with transfer of technology to overcome the existing energy crisis in Pakistan, for which a memorandum of understanding would soon be signed.

The Punjab government and vice chancellors of British universities, along with educationists, agreed to promote cooperation in energy sector research, as well as other development sectors. It was decided that British Council would arrange a policy dialogue for the matters that came under discussion during the roundtable sessions.

Speaking on the occasion, Shahbaz Sharif said the importance of research could not be undermined to solve the ongoing energy crisis and meet future needs. “The exchange of views with the vice chancellors of British universities and academic experts on development sectors like energy has proved to be fruitful, since the participating experts have expressed their willingness to extend cooperation to the Punjab government,” he added.

The chief minister said Pakistan was facing severe energy crisis and hoped concrete steps would be taken as a result of his visit to Britain to find a long-term solution to the problem.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif called on Senior Minister Francis Maude in London to discuss matters relating to elimination of corruption and promotion of transparency. Shahbaz Sharif told Maude about the concrete steps being taken by the Punjab government to root out corruption.

The chief minister expressed the desire to seek cooperation from the UK to make the procedure of official tenders and government expenditure more transparent in Punjab. He said the cooperation would help the Punjab government improve the system by listing online the government expenses and tenders on the pattern of the British system.

Shahbaz Sharif said access to information was the right of people and legislation was being drafted in Punjab in this regard. “The people will be empowered through access to information and government initiatives will be made more transparent,” he resolved.

He disclosed that a letter of intent will be signed on Thursday (today) between the Punjab government and the UK for taking practical steps to eliminate corruption and enhance cooperation. He also extended invitation to the British senior minister to visit Lahore. Maude appreciated the practical steps being taken by the Punjab government to eliminate corruption and promote merit.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif also met with British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Stephen Keith Green. Matters of mutual interest and promotion of bilateral trade and investment were discussed during the meeting.