A speech delivered by The Duke of Cambridge at a reception hosted by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan


The view from this hill would have been quite different when my grandmother, The Queen, first visited over half a century ago. Looking out, one would have seen the beginnings of a city under construction, yet to become the great capital that it is today.

Assalam O Alaikum. Thank you Tom for that kind introduction.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our great pleasure to join you here this evening on our first official visit to Pakistan. 

Already, Catherine and I have been honoured by the hospitality you have shown us, and we have certainly managed to make our way through a record breaking amount of food so generously offered by our hosts….

I would like to begin by saying bahut shukria to you all for making us so welcome in your country.

Stood here with this magnificent monument behind me, I am struck by the great strides Pakistan has made since its birth seventy-two years ago.

The view from this hill would have been quite different when my grandmother, The Queen, first visited over half a century ago.

Looking out, one would have seen the beginnings of a city under construction, yet to become the great capital that it is today.

And with successive visits by my mother and my father, this view has continued to change, with the city constantly growing and with it my family’s affection for Pakistan.

This is the world’s sixth largest country by population. It has an unbelievably diverse geography that spans deserts to glaciers and everything in between. It is the birth place of the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. And I am told that it hosts not just the second highest mountain in the world, but also its highest cash machine!

It is also home to one of the youngest populations in the world, with an average age of just 24 – almost half that of the UK.

In a public school not far from where we gather this evening, Catherine and I saw young children learning and playing, aided by an inspiring teacher, trained through the Teach for Pakistan programme. 

We spoke with ambitious young women finishing their schooling and planning for university and work. As Muhammed Ali Jinnah said, “No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men”.

It was good to hear from President Alvi and Prime Minster Khan, earlier today that education will continue to be an important priority for Pakistan.

We also saw the brilliant work taking place in the Margalla Hills, where young children were being taught the importance of protecting and caring for the world around them.

The education of Pakistan’s next generation will be the key that turns the country’s growing population into an engine of growth and helps unlock this country’s enormous potential. A rapidly growing population presents you with an enormous opportunity, but also significant challenge.

The UK and Pakistan share unique bonds and so it will always be in our best interests for you to succeed. Not least because of the 1.5 million people living in the UK with Pakistani origin and the fact that the UK is one of the biggest investors in your economy.

You can rely on us to keep playing an important role as a key partner and your friend.

Delivering a future where Pakistan’s great potential can be realised will not be easy or without sacrifice. 

For a country so young, Pakistan has endured many hardships, with countless lives lost to terror and hatred. Tonight I want to pay tribute to all those who have endured such sacrifice and helped to build the country that we see today. 

Whether in Pakistan or the UK or elsewhere on our planet – we face shared global challenges. The effects of climate change threaten the present and the future – and therefore demand a concerted effort by everyone.

In Pakistan, your spectacular glaciers – and those of the wider Hindu Kush-Himalaya region – serve as a critical water store for a quarter of a billion people; and over 1.6 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the mountains in this part of the world.

Yet, because the effects of global warming at altitude, a one and a half degree Celsius temperature increase overall could mean warming of over two degrees Celsius for northern Pakistan’s highest mountains.

This could lead to a loss of over a third of these vital glaciers in less than a century, with enormous impacts not only on the availability of water, but on agriculture and hydropower generation.

Tomorrow we will be seeing some of these impacts first hand and meeting some of the communities adjusting to the new realities and new challenges that climate change has brought to their towns and villages. I hope to learn what more we all can do to help prevent and mitigate this impending global catastrophe.

Ladies and gentlemen, given the scale and complexities of the challenges that future generations will face, it is clear that we all need to work together. And whether it’s this generation or the next, I know that the UK and Pakistan will continue to exemplify the very best in international cooperation.

Yes, the challenges ahead are great. But we cannot be daunted, nor distracted. Instead we should draw strength from our shared bonds and heed the words of Muhammed Ali Jinnah as we do so, “My message to you all” he said “is of hope, courage, and confidence”.

Thank you.

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