LAHORE - The British High Commissioner in Pakistan, Philip Barton hosted a party in Lahore on Monday to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 88th birthday.

Guests from all over Pakistan joined the celebrations, including representatives from the Punjab Assembly, the military, civil society, the diplomatic corps, businessmen, celebrities and the media.

It may be recalled that 2014 marks the 62th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, when she became both the British Sovereign and the Head of the Commonwealth. The British High Commissioner, His Excellency Philip Barton CMG OBE, and the Chief Guest, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif toasted each other’s Heads of State, while the national anthems of both countries were played.

Speaking on the occasion, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Philip Barton, said: “It is an honour to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday this evening with friends and colleagues in Lahore. It is an occasion to reflect on the close ties between the UK and Pakistan. Pakistan came into being only shortly before Her Majesty became Queen”.

He said that the enduring partnership between Pakistan and the UK had taken shape during her reign and it was a partnership that is set to become even more important as the two countries continue to work together for the mutual prosperity and security of their countries.

“These continue to be challenging times for Pakistan and we pay tribute to its people who have sacrificed so much. The UK stands behind Pakistan and its people as it tackles the evil of terrorism. We share vision of a safe and secure Pakistan achieving its economic and social potential. I really do believe that what is good for Pakistan is good for Britain. That is why cooperation on education and a focus on enhancing trade are also important parts of our relationship”, he observed.

Philip said UK was investing heavily in Pakistan’s education sector, with a particular focus on girls’ education. By 2015, UK aid will help benefit four million children in school, recruit and train 45,000 teachers in Punjab and improve test results in core subjects including Maths and English. On trade, he added, over 100 British firms were already operating and investing in Pakistan. “I am committed to seeing this rise over the coming years”, he said.  ‘Our historical links help underpin our modern relationship. These links are as much about the present and the future - the one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study or, simply for enjoyment.”,  he further stated.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also attended birthday function of British Queen, Elizabeth. British High Commissioner Philip Barton, diplomats, provincial ministers, politicians, intellectuals and prominent personalities belonging to various walks of life were also present. Shahbaz Sharif and the British High Commissioner cut the birthday cake.

Congratulating on the occasion, Shahbaz Sharif said that British Queen has proved strength of her character and abilities through public service. He said that Britain is a big trade partner of Pakistan and always extended cooperation for the promotion of democratic values in the country.

He said that British cooperation in education, health and other sectors in Punjab is commendable. The Chief Minister said that a revolutionary programme of educational reforms is continuing successfully in Punjab with the collaboration of DFID while healthcare programme is also being started with its cooperation. He said that Punjab government has recruited one lakh, forty thousand teachers on merit in the last few years whereas forty thousand youth have been made skillful through Skill Development Programme with the help of DFID.

British High Commissioner while addressing in Urdu and English said that Britain wants stability of democracy in Pakistan and it is a matter of pleasure that democracy is strengthening in Pakistan. He said that Britain will continue to cooperate with Pakistan and Punjab.