October 19, 2019
ISLAMABAD - The British royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton, yesterday left for the United Kingdom after a historic five-day visit to Pakistan, , carrying back home a bundle of fond memories featuring country’s vibrant culture, people and places. Duke and Duchess were seen off at the Nur Khan Airbase by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other officials. Prior to their departure, the royal couple visited Army Canine Centre in Islamabad. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined dog handlers as they train dogs to recognize and scout out hidden explosive materials, before taking some of the puppies through their paces on an agility training course, said a British High Commission statement issued here.
The UK has provided Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training and advice to Pakistan for over 10 years. The training aims to increase the capacity of both military and civilian forces to deliver Improvised Explosive Device Disposal, Advanced Search, Explosive Scene Investigation training and AES dog and handler training. The programme has been a success. Since the introduction of the programme, the IED threat in Pakistan has reduced significantly and the Pakistani military have opened a National Centre of Excellence for IEDD and search training and a world-class AES training facility. To date 90 AES dog handlers (Police and Military) and 96 AES Dogs have been taught by UK training teams under the Operation HALLEX. All those taught have been deployed or are currently deployed on CIED operations across Pakistan. They have been responsible for discovering thousands of kilograms of military and homemade explosives and as a result have saved countless lives.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were accompanied by Golden Labrador puppies Sky and Salto as they took round of the facility, where British officials help their Pakistani counterparts train the animals sniff the explosives. Rebecca English, UK’s Daily Mail correspondent, who was part of the royal delegation, tweeted that the Duke during the visit to dog training centre, mentioned that “Pakistanis had lost a lot of lives securing large parts of their country and those sacrifices should be acknowledged.” “Actually what happens here in Pakistan directly correlates to what happens on the streets of the UK,” Rebecca said quoting Prince William.
Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived back in Islamabad earlier in the day after spending an unexpected night in Lahore when thunderstorm forced their pilot to abort two landing attempts in the capital. Prince William and his wife Kate ended up staying the night at a hotel in Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, before finally flying back to Islamabad. A planned trip to the famed Khyber Pass - one of the two major border crossings in to Afghanistan - was called off.
Kensington Palace had called the trip, the Cambridges’ first official visit to Pakistan, as the royals seek to boost ties between Britain and Pakistan. They have spent their five-day tour promoting causes such as girls’ education, conservation and climate change awareness. Kate Middleton termed her five-day visit to Pakistan with Prince William, as ‘fantastic’ and ‘really special’. Middleton told CNN that the couple had seen a lot of the country during their stay in Pakistan. When questioned for her remarks for the entire visit, Middleton said it was “fantastic”. “William and I really wanted to come and see an SOS Children’s Village like this,” Kate continued. “There’s so many vulnerable women here but they’ve really used their positivity and the support that the Village here provides them … to support and protect the next generation of children in their care and give them the best possible start to their future lives.” The Duchess said “It was amazing seeing some of the geography yesterday, but then to see some of the community activities gas been really special.”