Prince William, Kate kick off five-day Pakistan tour

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate kicked off a five-day tour of Pakistan yesterday, amid much fanfare and tight security.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with the country’s President Arif Alvi, as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Authorities deployed over 1,000 police and paramilitary forces to ensure the royal entourage’s protection, setting up checkpoints and roadblocks in parts of the capital, Islamabad.

Alvi and his wife welcomed the royal couple, releasing a statement saying the President “commended” them for raising “awareness about mental health, climate change, and poverty alleviation”.

Prince William thanked the President for his warm welcome and hospitality extended to him and his entourage, the statement added.

The royals were accompanied by British ambassador Thomas Drew, the Duke’s private secretary Simon Case, and Communications Secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Christian Jones, according to a government statement.

The royal couple’s first engagements were visiting a school for girls in the capital earlier yesterday, followed by a tour of the nearby national park at Margalla hills.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are strong advocates of girls’ education, were greeted by teachers and children on their arrival at the Model College for Girls.

Wearing a royal blue traditional kurta and trouser, Kate sat with children in a classroom, as Prince William shook hands with a teacher. According to the United Nations annual Human Development report, most Pakistani girls will drop out after primary school and on average go to school for seven years.

Barely 27 per cent of girls in Pakistan attend secondary school, the report said, compared to nearly 50 per cent among boys.

Taleban militants in Pakistan violently oppose girls’ education and shot Malala Yousafzai — now a leading girls’ education global activist who attends Oxford University in Great Britain.

Militants in recent years have damaged girls’ schools in the northwest, including the Swat Valley which is the home of Yousafzai.

The royal couple arrived in Islamabad on Monday night.

Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate arriving at a school outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. PHOTO: AP