Interview By: Sarmad Shahbaz
It is not a long time from now since the world was shocked at the demise of the longest-serving Monarch of Britain, if not the whole world, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September of the previous year. Since then, the dynamics have unfolded rapidly. The monarch remains the Constitutional Head of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Being the supreme authority of the sovereign, the Monarch remains in a hereditary position, having a reigning history nearing a millennium. After Queen Elizabeth II, the Crown’s responsibilities are now vested in His Majesty King Charles III, who will be the head of state. This marks an event of Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and The Queen Consort Her Excellency Camilla. May 6th will be a historic day for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, a political, cultural, and intergovernmental association of 56 countries. The event will see the King and Queen attain a constitutional position as Head of State of the UK, the 14 Realms, the UK Overseas Territories, and the Crown Dependencies.
For a detail-oriented, in-depth knowledge about the event and the role of the British High Commission & the Commonwealth, it was a privilege to interview Her Excellency Ms. Jo Moir, Director of Development at the British High Commission in Pakistan. Ms. Moir is a career diplomat and a development professional having vast experience and professional credentials in the field of international diplomacy and development.
Interviewed at the British High Commission in Islamabad, Ms. Moir was reached with Pakistan’s condolence over the passing away of Queen Elizabeth II, along with welcoming greetings on the Coronation of forthcoming Majesties of the United Kingdom. The interview commenced with the imminent and foundational question, “What is happening in the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla?” Upon this, Ms. Moir quite briefly stated that “It is indeed a significant moment. The coronation of the Majesties counts is an event happening first time in seventy years. This historic event is happening on May 6th, 2023 Saturday at Westminster Abbey, home of the British Monarchs for centuries. Various heads of states and heads of governments will be attending the transition towards the new British Monarchs”.
When asked about the year 2023 and the Commonwealth, Ms. Moir optimistically added, “2023 is titled as the Year of the Youth. The year is the year of change-makers as more than 60 pc of the population of the commonwealth nation lies in the youth’s age bracket. Similarly, Commonwealth provides several associations under its umbrella ranging from Youth Council to Student Associations”. Reiterating the facts, the diplomat added, “In the previous year, Commonwealth provided the young people with the Commonwealth games, cultural diversification, and people-to-people exchanges. This year, the Commonwealth is focusing on expanding its educational programs, especially for young people. Some of these programs include Chevening Scholarships, Queen’s Education Scholarship, GoAl Program Commonwealth Scholarships, and various programs for aspiring professionals. This is expedited with the high-ended support of the British government itself. All of this is taken forward by the Royal effect of the British Majesties”.
The Commonwealth Organization is a political association of 56 countries. Pakistan, being a member of it, remains focused and dedicated to prospering the network. On the relevance of Pakistan to the Commonwealth, Her Excellency elucidated, “Pakistan has a link with Commonwealth for more than seventy years. Commonwealth focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which also lie on the same agenda of development in Pakistan. The relevance of Pakistan to the Commonwealth remains intact in developing the foundational ideas of the SDGs, especially on education, health, and gender quality”.
On the question of engagement of young people in Pakistan with the British High Commission and the Commonwealth, various pragmatic paths are paved. Ms. Moir briefed on this, saying, “Engagement of young people is of huge importance. The future lies on the shoulder of young people. On the behalf of British Government, the total sum of £900m in the recent decade for inclusion and participation of young people” Adding to this, she added the fact that, “Due to an estimated 22.8 million children being out of school in Pakistan — about 12.2 million of them being girls — the UK has just pledged £130 million under its ‘Girls and Out of School: Action for Learning (GOAL)’ program, to enable education for girls in Pakistan”
On concluding the interview with Her Excellency Ms. Jo Moir remained hopeful for a productive future, amongst the Commonwealth of Nations, under the leadership of Their Majesties The King and The Queen. In the approaching days, the new Monarchs Their Majesties of the United Kingdom will be crowned as the head of state of the United Kingdom and the Head of the Commonwealth. This serves as a watershed for the commonwealth states as well as the European continent encompassing the whole world. As far as is concerned for Pakistan and the United Kingdom, both countries look forward to a new era of healthy relations, expecting an augmentation of diplomatic exchanges, trade relations, stronger educational services, cultural ties, and people-to-people correspondence.
The writer is a Pakistan-based journalist, politico-economic commentator, and social critic. He is also a Commonwealth Correspondent of the United Kingdom in Pakistan. He can be reached at @SarmadShahbaz01
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