The High Commissioner for Pakistan to the UK Mohammad Nafees Zakaria hosted a huge reception at his official residence in Hampstead to celebrate the South Asian nation’s 79th National Day – his first here as High Commissioner – followed by a flag raising ceremony, concert and cake-cutting for the community at the High Commission in Lowndes Square.
Dignitaries – from British Parliamentarians, senior public servants and local councillors, to diplomats, heads of International Organisations and Pakistani community leaders and friends of Pakistan – gathered in the grounds of Pakistan House to mark the occasion.
In his National Day remarks, the High Commissioner paid homage to Pakistan’s Founding Fathers, then looked to the future economic potential of his country: “Pakistan’s growing economy and 210 million-strong population, half of which is under the age of 30, is poised to make impact,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s strategic geographic location made it a natural economic hub and energy corridor for the region.
British investors were showing interest and some 120 British companies were already operating in Pakistan, he added. Echoing the High Commissioner’s comments, Lesley Craig of the FCO, speaking on behalf of the UK Government, said Britain was looking to deepen the economic relationship in a post-Brexit context.
Ms also Craig praised the “huge contribution” British Pakistanis made to all areas of life in UK including in Parliament, business, culture and education where ties with Britain were blossoming. Some 30,000 Pakistani students had studied in the UK over the past five years, she said, adding that the recently-launched Education Gateway, would build research partnerships to tackle significant challenges facing both countries.
Both countries also enjoyed sporting links and Ms Craig said the UK looked forward to welcoming Pakistan Cricket Team to the World Cup.
After celebratory toasts, guests enjoyed a spread of traditional Pakistani cuisine.
PHOTOS: KAMAL NUNKOO
Above photo: The High Commissioner for Pakistan Mohammad Nafees Zakaria addresses guests