Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit Pakistan in autumn
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will carry out a high-profile visit to Pakistan this autumn, Kensington Palace has announced.
At the request of the Foreign Office, William and Kate will travel to the Islamic republic, as the future heir to the throne follows in the footsteps of both his parents.
Their tour of Pakistan comes more than 13 years after the last royal visit, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the country in 2006.
Diana, Princess of Wales, also made the journey several times through her charity work.
The High Commissioner for Pakistan, Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, said the government and people of Pakistan welcome the announcement that William and Kate will visit in the coming months.
“The people of Pakistan still cherish and fondly recall the visits of Her Majesty The Queen to Pakistan during 1961 and 1997,” he said.
“The upcoming royal visit is a reflection of the importance the United Kingdom attaches to its relations with Pakistan.
“The two countries enjoy historical links which both sides wish to strengthen further.”
The Queen last travelled to the state in 1997, igniting controversy when she called on Pakistan and India to settle their differences, in an address to parliament in Islamabad.
When Charles and Camilla travelled to Pakistan, their visit was seen as one of the most perilous royal foreign tours for some time.
With details of where William and Kate will travel to yet to be released, the Foreign Office states on its website that “terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Pakistan”.
“Foreigners, in particular westerners, may be directly targeted,” it notes, adding how the country is in a “major earthquake zone”, and that the monsoon season runs from June to early October.
In recent months, there have been a number of security incidents, including a bombing outside a shrine in central Lahore, as well as an attack by armed militants on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan.
Pakistan shares borders with Iran, Afghanistan, India and China – two of the world’s nuclear powers.
The Foreign Office advises against all travel to a number of areas in Pakistan including the city of Peshawar, the federally administered tribal areas, and the Karakoram Highway between Islamabad and Gilgit.
With a population of more than 207 million people, Pakistan is also home to K2 – the world’s second highest mountain and part of the Himalayas.
More than 1.5 million people of Pakistani origin currently live in the UK, with 270,000 British nationals visiting the country every year.
The country’s place on the world stage shifted after the September 11 attacks when it dropped its support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and was propelled into the frontline in the fight against terrorism, becoming a key ally of Washington.
However, Pakistan is also where former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was discovered holed up in his compound in Abbottabad, and killed in 2011.
The country denied knowing that bin Laden, the mastermind behind the atrocity which claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people in 2001, was in hiding there.