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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks to the press after meeting the Prime Minister of Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan, 14 August 2013

I'd like to sincerely congratulate you again, the people and Government of Pakistan, on this 67th Independence Day.

I am honoured to be back in Pakistan.  I thank Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Government and people of Pakistan for their warm welcome and hospitality. 

This is my third visit to Pakistan.  It is a special privilege for me to have this first meeting with the newly inaugurated Prime Minister again for this third term. I am very pleased that we have had a very good exchange of views on how the United Nations and Pakistan can work together to strengthen our partnership and addressing many regional and global challenges.

Pakistan just held successful elections and saw the first democratic transition between two civilian Governments.  I welcome this milestone and believe
this is a fitting time to deepen the already strong bonds between Pakistan and the United Nations. 

I count on the Prime Minister’s leadership to build on this achievement and deepen participatory democracy in Pakistan.

I firmly believe we need to widen our lens and look at Pakistan beyond any one dimension, prism or perspective.  This is a vibrant, dynamic country full of promises and possibilities. 

Pakistan is an important partner and a pivotal global player across the board.

Pakistan has the sixth largest population in the world – with almost half under the age of 18. 

Yesterday, I had a very engaging meeting with students at the Islamabad College for Girls.  It was deeply touching and inspiring to hear their aspirations and their challenges.  I hope government leaders will listen to their voices and try to reflect their aspirations. 

I was very pleased that the Pakistan is the largest contributor of UN peacekeeping troops, for which we are enormously grateful.  You are currently serving as an active member of the Security Council – and host to the world’s largest refugee population. 

Pakistan is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and a global leader in our drive for sustainable energy for all. 

The last time I was here, in August 2010, Pakistan was battling the impact of the worst floods ever seen in this country.  I extend my deepest sympathies
to those affected by this year’s floods.

We are continuing to work to ensure that the people of Pakistan are better prepared and that we reduce the risks associated with floods and other natural disasters.

And, of course, Pakistan has paid an enormous price in the lives of tens of thousands of your citizens who have been brutally murdered by the forces of terrorism and extremism. 

Recently His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia generously donated $100 million to support the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre.

I assured the Prime Minister that the United Nations will continue to support Pakistan in this fight and in efforts to promote tolerance, understanding and respect for all people.

I wholeheartedly welcome all efforts to tackle serious challenges at home and strengthen relations with your neighbours.
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We discussed Pakistan’s support for the transition in Afghanistan in 2014 as well as the role of the United Nations.

We also welcome Pakistan’s work to accelerate progress to reach the Millennium Development Goals and to help in shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

It is important that the Pakistani Government accelerate their efforts and make an even greater push for progress.

That means prioritizing issues such as education, gender equality, poverty reduction and sustainable development. 

Our partnership stretches across all issues and all seasons.  I look forward to working with the government and people of Pakistan to further strengthen our relationship in the years to come.

And I am looking forward to having another fruitful meeting with His Excellency the Prime Minister in September when he comes to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Thank you.