The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are preparing for their ‘most complex’ tour to date as they visit Pakistan amid political tensions and increased security concerns. The royal couple will embark on their first official visit to the country on Monday. Their trip – at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – comes during a period of heightened tension between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir. While authorities in Delhi and Islamabad both claim the entire Himalayan region, each controls a section of the territory. And this year skirmishes on the de-facto border between ‘Indian-administered Kashmir’ and ‘Pakistan-administered Kashmir’ have been on the rise, leading to both troop and civilian casualties. William and Kate will travel more than 1,000km around the country from Monday until Friday, 18 October.
The pair’s visit will include events in capital Islamabad, the city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the north and border regions to the west. However, precise details of their engagements will only be released day by day due to ‘security considerations’, the couple’s communication secretary said. The royal couple 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. It has been more than 13 years since the last royal visit, regarded as one of the most perilous royal tours in recent times, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall travelled through the country in 2006.
During the tour Charles and Camilla were forced to pull out of a visit to Peshawar due to concerns over safety and an excursion near the border of Afghanistan was cancelled last minute when military forces carried out a deadly strike on a religious school accused of being a front for an al-Qaida training camp. A Kensington Palace statement ahead of the visit said the duke and duchess were ‘looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the people of Pakistan’.