‘We are looking forward to a free, fair, and timely election in Pakistan.’

Jane Marriott, British High Commissioner to Pakistan, was recently interviewed by a leading news channel. The following are the excerpts taken from the interview.

September 2023

What more significant challenges do you think you’ll be able to focus on?

I hope we are looking forward to a free, fair, and timely election coming up shortly. Pakistan and the UK have a very deep relationship, and the Pakistani diaspora is probably one of the strongest in the UK. I think a lot of it is building on success. We have a great relationship between the two countries and an excellent partnership that I hope to help support to take it to even greater heights. The biggest threat facing the world is rapidly occurring climate change. It may be more of a threat tomorrow, but it’s a threat today to the people suffering from floods and drought worldwide, including Pakistan. So I hope we can concentrate a lot on climate-related aspects. Obviously, observing the political process will be key.

Last year, Pakistan had a spate of devastating floods, and the world pledged to help the country with monetary support and others, but a lot of help hasn’t come through.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan has emerged as the most vulnerable victim of climate change. In fact, the climate justice system is not quick or as efficient as the people of Pakistan would have hoped so far. So how can we bridge that gap? One of the challenges is that the need for support is much greater than the ability to support. That’s a financial reality that the world is facing right now; some of the gaps I think need to be filled through international climate facilities and funds. The UK is putting 11. 6 billion pounds into the international climate facility funds. I hope we can leverage some of that here in Pakistan because the problems are not going away.

Sadly, they’re going to get worse since the amount of money the world has to spend on this is not great, and consistent efforts are needed to build resilience, adapt environments, and tackle the long-term challenges associated with climate change. This is why the Conference of the Parties (COP) summits that happen every year are very important.

Pakistani students would be very interested in knowing what sort of collaboration and what sort of areas we can strengthen our relationships by being able to help each other. What would you tell a Pakistani student who’s probably looking to pursue higher studies in the UK?

You would already know about higher education opportunities offered in the UK, such as scholarships, particularly for Master’s programmes. We will soon launch the next round of Chevening Scholarships. Thus, there are many opportunities for Pakistani students to study in the UK and bring the acquired skills back to their home country. In addition, I’d like to see some British students coming to Pakistan to pursue education. I would love to see more British people coming to Pakistan for the said purpose and also for tourism.

What about your experience of being the first British High Commissioner appointed in Pakistan?

That’s right, but knowing how and why it is that important is more important. So in some ways, I’d like it not to be important, and I’d quite like it to be fairly routine. So I’d love for it to become more normalized, and for me, it’s essential as the first woman to begin that normalization process. Generally speaking, a woman can be a good as well as a bad high commissioner, just as a man can be a good or bad high commissioner. Hence, the matter of good performance is irrespective of gender.