Wed | Nov 22, 2017

New British high commish takes aim at crime, security

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
British High Commissioner Asif Ahmad

Asif Ahmad, the new British high commissioner to Jamaica, said he would use his tour of duty in the country to pursue hot-button topics, such as crime and security, drawing on the strong historic ties between both countries to drive the dialogue.

Speaking to The Gleaner on Tuesday, Ahmad also shared that among his top five goals is the security of British nationals and the strengthening of commercial ties between companies in the United Kingdom (UK) and Jamaica.

"Number one - front, back and centre - is the safety and security of my people. If you speak to your high commissioner in London, he would say the same thing about Jamaicans living in Britain. It's just my front-to-back role here, and I am never far from that," he stated.

He said that furthering the importance of the progressive agenda and cementing Jamaica's position in world affairs would also be a valuable part of his duties here.

"Law and security is very important, but fundamentally, it's about livelihoods and economic progress, and Jamaica has some catching up to do on that," the high commissioner noted.

"Through encouraging what we regard as a progressive agenda, I think we can create more opportunities, and by creating opportunities for Jamaica, we create more for ourselves because you can't sell your goods and services to a country that hasn't the wherewithal to do so. Therefore, I think the progressive agenda is another big item."

 

DESIRE TO DEPOSE SPAIN

 

He noted that he would be on steep learning curves, which involve meeting with several political and business leaders in order to get a clearer understanding of the need for British assistance through co-operation and common interests.

Ahmad explained that it was also his desire to help depose Spain as the leading European investor in Jamaica, by drawing on the strong historic and bilateral links between Jamaica and Britain.

"As it stands, it's Spain who is the leading investor country in Jamaica out of Europe. We want to challenge that," he said.

In 2002, Ahmad served as the head of department, Commonwealth coordinator in the British Home Office before taking up the position as director of Asia at UK Trade and Investment from May 2004 to January 2008.

As a diplomat, he has had experience as head of missions in countries such as Thailand, Laos, Palau, and the Philippines and currently has responsibility for the Bahamas as well as Jamaica.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com