Yesterday Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar attended the international conference on Somalia in London hosted by British Prime MinisterDavid Cameron. Her presence was valuable and built on the good collaboration that Britain and Pakistan have enjoyed over the narrower question of Somali piracy.
We’ve both suffered from these pirates. So our two navies have collaborated on tackling the problem. As long ago as February 2011 Pakistan’s Commodore Aleem and his staff commanded the international community’s Combined Task Force against Somali pirates from the bridge of HMS Cornwall, with PNS Shahjahan alongside participating in joint operations. I think having a Pakistani officer command a British warship counts as really close collaboration!
And it’s great to be collaborating with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister on doing something positive in the wider region and for Somalia, a country that has been through abject misery over the last 20 years of civil war and state failure. The London Conference on Somalia brought together Somalia’s leaders with those from over 50 governments and organisations including many from the Middle East and Africa (e.g. the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Arab League, the African Union, the UN Secretary General, the UAE, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda) .
Neither Britain nor Pakistan has any illusions that the Conference will by itself lead to magic solutions. But we did identify positive, practical steps on political process, security, tackling terrorism, piracy and the humanitarian crisis, putting in place stabilising international funding and improving international coordination. We hope that such steps will be a catalyst for progress. That’s important both for Britain and for Pakistan – better lives for poor Somalis, less regional terrorism, more regional stability.