A royal visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate Middleton’s historic visit to Pakistan will surely alter Pakistan’s image and further improve relations between the two countries.

The tour has been described as the most complex undertaken by the royal couple due to logistical reasons and security concerns. The Duke and Duchess have stated that they are looking forward to building a lasting friendship with Pakistan and interact with a wide range of people.

The visit has drawn comparisons with previous royal visits. Queen Elizabeth, the ruling monarch and William’s grandmother, visited Pakistan in 1961 during Ayub Khan’s era. She then visited in 1997 when Pakistan celebrated its diamond jubilee anniversary. Prince Charles was the last royal to visit in 2006 with his wife Camila Parker. However, it is the visit of Prince William’s mother Lady Diana which is still remembered and echoes the current visit.

Diana visited Pakistan thrice and still has a huge following in the country. The most famous was in 1997 when Diana came for a personal visit on the invitation of Imran Khan to raise funds for his cancer hospital. This was followed by a second visit within a year and just months before she tragically died in a car accident. Coincidentally, Imran Khan is now in power as her son is visiting for the first time.

There is a lot on agenda for the royal couple including a visit to Lahore and the scenic Chitral valley along with several people-to-people engagements and reception. During their visit, Imran Khan told the visitors about the love and affection that exists among the people of Pakistan for Diana because of her compassion and commitment to charitable causes.

Pakistan and UK have a long colonial history but it’s time to put the bitten into the past. Both countries have now developed extensive links between government and the people. Pakistan has been a member of the Commonwealth since independence. There are around 1.5 million people that call Britain home and have family links to Pakistan.

The visit should not be seen a mere eyewash as it will have a positive impact. It aims to showcase Pakistan as a dynamic, aspirational, and forward-looking nation. This is what Pakistan needs amidst a struggling economy and security challenges. Pakistan has laid out the red carpet and provided extensive security to the royal couple hoping that the visit will allow it to move forward and redefine the way the world views Pakistan.

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