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Central & South Asia
UK PM defends Pakistan criticism
David Cameron reiterates demand for Islamabad to do more to tackle "terrorists".
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2010 17:36 GMT
Cameron, left, and Singh both called on Pakistan to tackle groups based on their territory [AFP]

David Cameron, the British prime minister, has defended remarks in which he criticised Pakistan's record in dealing with "terrorist organisations".

Speaking at a joint news conference in New Delhi with Manmohan Singh, his Indian counterpart, both prime ministers called on Islamabad to crack down on armed groups operating from its territory.

"No-one is in any doubt, least of all the Pakistani government themselves, that there has been and still are terrorist organisations like the LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and others that need to be cracked down on and eliminated," Cameron said.

The British prime minister had already angered Pakistan when he said on Wednesday that the country should not "promote the export of terror".

LeT has been blamed for attacks on Mumbai in 2008, which left 166 people dead and further derailed peace talks between India and Pakistan.

'Honour commitment'

Singh on Thursday called on Pakistan to make equal efforts to eliminate fighters operating in western border areas near Afghanistan and the eastern border with India.

"I sincerely hope that the government of Pakistan will honour its commitment given to us on a number of occasions that Pakistani territory will not be allowed to be used for terrorism," he said.

"I think what you have here is a new prime minister who is anxious to create a sense of his own competence to establish his presence on the world stage"

Ian Black,
Middle East editor
at the Guardian

Pakistan has come under concerted pressure this week after leaked US military documents alleged links between Pakistan's ISI intelligence services and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Islamabad has strongly criticised Cameron, who is on a two-day visit to India aimed at improving bilateral trade between London and New Delhi, for his remarks.

Abdul Basit, a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman, said the prime minister seemed to have based his comments on the leaked US documents, which he called "biased and self-serving".

"We are obviously disappointed at these comments because these are not coming from any original source, rather biased sources and I would say not even raw intelligence but disinformation against Pakistan," he told Al Jazeera.

In his comments on Wednesday, Cameron had said that Islamabad should know "that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror".

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world," he said.

'Pleasing his hosts'

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a South Asia expert for the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said Cameron's comments were made "to please the host nation".

Cameron, left, is on a two-day visit to
promote trade with India [AFP]

"He's very keen to boost the bilateral ties and it's very clear that this can't only take place on the base of trade and economic issues but needs a security dimension," he told Al Jazeera.

"It is significant that he has made these remarks on Pakistan in India during a state visit as opposed to making them in London.

"But they still don't go far enough in terms of the Indian government's perspective.

"After all he has not talked about any complicity of elements of the Pakistani government in terrorism, an allegation that India strongly supports."

Pakistan's Basit strongly denied any Pakistani links with terrorist groups and defended Islamabad's role.

"Britain knows full well as to how Pakistan, particularly the ISI has been extending help and assistance to Britain in thwarting so many terrorist plots in Britain," he said.

"They know the effectiveness of the ISI and our constructive and positive role in Afghanistan so we do not find any reason whatsoever for such remarks."

'Sharp reaction'

Earlier, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner in London, told Al Jazeera that he had received hundreds of calls from Pakistanis, who offered "a very sharp reaction" to Cameron's comments.

"I think Cameron will review his statement, clarify his position, because we need to be supported not criticised for what we are doing," Hasan said.

He also refuted renewed criticism of Pakistani intelligence servicesover its alleged ties to Taliban, following revelations by Wikileaks, the whistle blower website.

The site leaked US government documentssuggesting links between Pakistan's security services, the Taliban and other groups operating in Afghanistan.

"ISI was one of the conduits used by the CIA and other agencies to raise these Taliban, these mujahidin, to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan," Hasan said.

Ian Black, the Middle East editor for Britain's Guardian newspaper, said Cameron's comments were an attempt to send out clear messages about UK foreign policy.

"I think what you have here is a new prime minister who is anxious to create a sense of his own competence to establish his presence on the world stage," he told Al Jazeera.

"And by his own admission he likes to use clear, strong language."

Cameron is scheduled to meet Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, in Britain next week.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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