Every country has potential and can look to decide its own destiny. Pakistan is no different. In 2047, one hundred years from its birth, Pakistan could be both economically prosperous and free of terrorism; a major political and economic force in the world. It can do that without losing its strong Muslim faith, its patriotism, and its founding values.

But as recent events have shown, the road to achieving this is difficult and comes at a price. The UK and Pakistan have both had to deal with terrorism and both know that by standing up and being counted, tackling these problems head on, a better future can be achieved. Whilst that future is not guaranteed, I know Pakistan and its people want this future and will work towards it. This is Pakistan’s choice and I applaud choosing a tough but ultimately fruitful path.

But there are also wider issues that need tackling with the same ferocity that is displayed against terrorism. The steps for that prosperous future are sometimes simple to understand, but hard to implement.

Around the world, you can see the impact of countries deciding to make the right decisions about their future. The success stories of the world are the states and nations that have tackled violence and extremism, have accepted other faiths, religions and cultures and taken tough decisions to enable them to strengthen the economy and invest in infrastructure and education.

But it is not just government that needs to make these decisions for its people. For me, more than anything, it is the values of the people that make a real difference. Entrepreneurs taking risks with their capital and creating jobs and wealth, people paying their taxes and acting with social responsibility, and workers employed on the basis of ability not contacts. All generating the essential investment needed to be put into education, health, infrastructure and energy.

The UK has made difficult decisions to secure its own safe and prosperous future. We have not only had to fight terrorism, but also make difficult decisions about our economy. As a country, we have also made the decisions that public services like education, health and infrastructure are worth investing in and maintaining for the good of the country. Politicians, like me, do not interfere in our legal system, do not influence the police, and are held to account by a media not beholden to me or any of my political colleagues. We do however support spending nearly 6% of our GDP on education where as Pakistan spends less than 2.5%, even though our GDP is higher and our population is smaller.

Having had the chance to meet some of the people of Pakistan, and by also talking to many people of Pakistani origin back in the UK, I am very encouraged. Pakistan’s concerted efforts to tackle the evil of terrorism after the awful attack at the Peshawar Army School is a huge step forward; the promise by the Finance Ministry to increase spending on education is an investment that will pay for itself many times; and the efforts to improve infrastructure and the economy are vital to the future of Pakistan’s growth.

But the real future of Pakistan is in its youth. It is the young men and women of today who can be the leaders in industry and politics in Pakistan in 2047. The future of your country is in your own hands. Every entrepreneur – from the head of the biggest business to the smallest market trader – must ensure their business acts responsibly; every public servant must decide not to ask for or accept bribes; and every journalist should report honestly and truthfully.

The UK is making sure we are doing everything we can to support you in these steps. But the future of Pakistan is not in the UK’s hands, it is the choices you will make today and tomorrow and I firmly believe the people of Pakistan will continue to progress by making the right ones, no matter how difficult they are.