As significant internationalist powers, but not superpowers, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have an interest in the preservation of an international order based on the application of law rather than might. Pakistan has sacrificed much alone but Pakistan knows well that in a world with global problems, no country is able to address all the challenges alone. Alliances and partnerships are more important than ever and Pakistan finds UK as global alliance partner. Furthermore, UK and Pakistan also have a shared stake in strengthening the rules-based international order to be fit for the challenges of the 21st century. Against the backdrop of the growing challenges to the international order, the UK and Pakistan have a particular shared interest in a multilateral system that works.

UK‘s diplomatic mission in Pakistan is the second largest in the world and also the DFID‘s (Department for International Development) was largest bilateral Programme in the world with almost half a billion dollars. In addition, more than two per cent of the UK’s population now traces its roots back to Pakistan. British Pakistanis have a significant contribution to the social, economic, academic, cultural, and political fabric of the country, with 12 members in the House of Commons of Pakistani origin acting as a connecting bridge between Pakistan and the UK. It is no coincidence that both the countries invest heavily in the United Nations; an example of both states shared interest. In addition, both Pakistan and the United Kingdom are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations.

Now, as United Kingdom has left the European Union, it is looking to renew its global partnerships. This includes seeking free trade agreements with newly emerging and fast growing economies and as Pakistan’s biggest trading partner in Europe, UK should continue to champion Pakistan’s cause. In the post-Brexit world, the UK and Pakistan can benefit from each other’s economic success. Furthermore, the UK is Pakistan’s biggest trading partner in Europe and third biggest investor globally. This will be the best guarantee of the future stability and prosperity of both countries, particularly in the post-Brexit world. Moreover, United Kingdom admires the second consecutive democratic transition of power that will shape Pakistan’s future. Pakistan and UK share a joint vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Pakistan becoming once again the vibrant hub of trade and commerce that its geography and size demand.

Pakistan seems to have increased its allure for the United Kingdom. Moreover, relationship between UK and Pakistan requires vigorous people to people contact through bilateral exchanges in order to gradually eliminate misperceptions between the two countries. Pakistan also needs to work to ensure that post-Brexit, it continues to have market access to the UK along the lines of the current GSP+ status. Furthermore, Pakistan needs to improve its trade complementarity with UK, so it can meet UK’s import demands. In addition to this, Pakistan should also push to have more products, currently not covered under the GSP+, for inclusion in any preferential market access agreement with the UK.

Strengthening trade and economic relations with the United Kingdom should be the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy as this lucrative destination can help boost national exports to the required level. Pakistan and the UK have to work hard together operationally and through their legal systems to deal with threats to both countries, whether from crime, terrorism or illegal migration. Criminals of neither country should be allowed to find refuge in the other.

The writer is a Assistant Research Officer (ARO) at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).

Strengthening trade and economic relations with the United Kingdom should be the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy as this lucrative destination can help boost national exports to the required level.