Dismantle terror groups, UK tells Pakistan

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 17:56

London: Britain has asked Pakistan to
"dismantle" all terror groups operating on its soil and posing
a threat to it as well as to the region and beyond.

In a response to the Foreign Affairs Committee`s March
report on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Secretary William
Hague noted that Pakistan has suffered more casualties from
terrorism than any country since September 11, but nonetheless
called upon the beleaguered country to do all it can to
"dismantle all militant and terrorist groups operating on, and
from, its soil".

Hague`s response to the parliamentary committee report
was submitted within hours of US action in Abbottabad last
week to eliminate Osama bin Laden, nailing years of denial by
Pakistan that he was not in Pakistan.

Ever since the raid that killed Osama, Pakistan has
been facing questions over its role in the al Qaeda chief`s
stay in the country and over whether and what kind of local
support network existed for him.

Hague said: "We recognise the sacrifices made by
Pakistan`s military, civil law enforcement agencies and people
in fighting violent extremism and militancy. Pakistan`s recent
action against militants has been of domestic and regional
benefit, and has benefited the UK as well".

Hague said the presence of militant and terrorist
groups posed a threat to Pakistan as well as to the region and
beyond.

"We continue to urge Pakistan to do all it can to
dismantle all militant and terrorist groups operating on, and
from, its soil," he said.

Hague said Pakistan does appreciate that there is more
to be done in terms of cementing gains against militants and
the UK would continue to work with Pakistan to enhance its
capacity to tackle these threats.

Noting the statement by Prime Minister David Cameron
during his visit to India last year that Pakistan could not
`look both ways` on the issue of terrorism, the committee had
said in its report: "We conclude that it was inappropriate and
unhelpful for the Prime Minister to have made negative remarks
about Pakistan`s record on counter-terrorism in India".

"Nonetheless, we further conclude that the substance
of his concerns remain pertinent," it had said.

Responding to the committee`s concern on direct action
by the US in Pakistan, Hague said that drone strikes were
primarily a matter for the two countries.

He said: "The UK supports Pakistan`s democratically
elected government, together with the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Pakistan.

"Drone strikes are primarily a matter for the US and
Pakistan. Both are key allies who are facing a shared and
dangerous threat from violent extremists, who also threaten
the UK".

Hague added: "There is a need for effective action,
and for Pakistani ownership of the fight against violent
extremism.

"It is important that Pakistan and the international
community continue to work together to combat this common
threat".

The committee had concluded that continuing existence
of Pakistani safe havens for Afghan insurgents made it
extremely difficult, if not impossible, for ISAF`s
counter-insurgency campaign to succeed.

It said in its report: "It is of considerable concern
that the UK is in a situation where, along with its key ally
the US, it is reliant upon, but appears to have little
influence over, Pakistan, considering the capacity of that
country substantially to affect the longer-term prospects for
peace in Afghanistan".

Responding to this conclusion, Hague said Pakistan
has a positive role to play in supporting an Afghan-led
political settlement.

"Continued instability in the Afghanistan/Pakistan
border areas is harmful to both countries and threatens wider
developments.

"We agree with Pakistan that peace and stability in
Afghanistan will not be achieved through force alone and that
the key is a genuinely representative political outcome that
addresses the political and economic aspirations of all Afghan
citizens, and is supported by the wider region," he said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 17:56

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