British Minister for State for International Development, Desmond Swayne on Wednesday said that the British government looked forward to further strengthening economic cooperation with Pakistan and DFID could play an important role in this regard.

He made these remarks during a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here. He was accompanied by acting British High Commissioner, Patrick Moody, Head of DFID, Pakistan, Richard Montgomery and Ms Judith Herbertson, Deputy Head of DFID.

At the outset of the meeting, Desmond Swayne conveyed felicitations of the British Prime Minister to Minister Dar on the successful economic reforms programme. He said despite economic constraints and political challenges, the government had shown tremendous resilience and achieved an economic turnaround which was really commendable.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, while welcoming the visiting dignitary, said immediately after assuming responsibilities, the government faced the challenge to ward off forecasts of economic pundits regarding Pakistan’s imminent default. The government faced the challenge with grit and determination and put the economy on the right track. Now, he said, Pakistan was treading on the path to consolidating its economic achievements.

Minister Dar shared with Desmond Swayne salient features of the reforms programme and the measures taken by the PML-N government for development of the energy sector, betterment in education and social sector and eliminating the scourge of militancy. He particularly mentioned government’s keen interest in strengthening and expanding the income support programme with a view to uplift the most deserving and needy segment of the society. He said within two years of assuming responsibilities the government had increased the allocation of Income Support Programme from Rs 30 billion to over 100 billion and the number of beneficiaries (families) had risen to 5 million and there was 50% increase in monthly stipend. He also highlighted the achievements of the operation Zarbe Azb. The finance minister informed the British Minister for International Development about the steps that the government was undertaking for settlement of the TDPs and said special allocation had been made for them in the budget 2015-16. He lauded the role of DFID in social development in Pakistan and welcomed further expansion in its development-oriented activities.

App adds: Meanwhile, Desmond Swayne MP said Pakistan was on one of the UK’s top priorities for development investment. According to a statement issued here by the British High Commission, Desmond said the UK was one of Pakistan’s closest development partners and was committed to continue working with Pakistan at both the federal and provincial level - to deliver on its commitment to create more jobs, improve access to health and education services, improve economic stability and drive Pakistan’s growth to become a global economic player. This will enable millions of people in Pakistan to lift themselves out of poverty and have a brighter future and make for a more stable and prosperous Pakistan, he said.

“Pakistan is one of the UK’s most important development partners. What happens in Pakistan matters deeply to the UK. We have more than one million people of Pakistani descent living in the UK. We are bound together through business, family, and friendship.”