William and Kate begin tour as Pakistan bolsters security

By Emma Bowden, PA

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will begin their tour of Pakistan today as the country heightens security provisions for the couple’s five-day visit.

It will be their first official visit to Pakistan and “most complex” tour to date, Kensington Palace said, due to political tensions and security concerns in the region.

More than 1,000 Pakistani police officers will be deployed to secure the royal couple’s safety while they travel across the Islamic country, according to the Telegraph.

All details of their engagements will be released by the palace on the day due to security considerations.

Their trip, at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, comes during heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Authorities in Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, but each controls a section of the territory, recognised internationally as “Indian-administered Kashmir” and “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”.

Skirmishes between the two sides at the de-facto border have increased this year, causing troop and civilian casualties.

Pakistan has seen a number of security incidents in recent months, 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.

The tour, which wraps up on Friday, seeks to strengthen ties between the UK and Pakistan.

With Brexit looming, it comes as London hopes to bolster its international relationships, while Islamabad is keen to promote itself as a tourist destination amid concerns over security and violence in the region.

It will span more than 1,000km of the country, including capital Islamabad, the city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the north and border regions to the west.

Their itinerary includes a range of occasions and locations.

William and Kate are expected to meet leaders from government and well-known cultural figures and sporting stars, as well as visiting programmes which empower young people.

They will also cover how communities in Pakistan are responding and adapting to climate change, and are due to spend time understanding the “complex security picture” of the region.

Their tour of Pakistan comes more than 13 years since the last royal visit, seen as one of the most perilous royal foreign tours for some time, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the country in 2006.

William will be following in the footsteps of both his parents, as Diana, Princess of Wales, made the journey several times through her charity work.

The couple will leave their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, at home for the visit.

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