Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday airlifted two
British cabinet ministers away from angry protesters after
they visited an area ravaged by the country`s catastrophic
floods, the visiting delegation said.
British International Development Secretary Andrew
Mitchell and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Conservative Party
chairwoman and minister without portfolio, had visited
flood-hit areas in the country`s volatile northwest.
Officials said that at no point was their security under
threat, and Mitchell praised the Pakistani military for acting
"We came back to Islamabad by a circuitous route. The
ministerial party had to be re-routed to avoid a large,
ongoing public protest as a precaution," Mitchell told a news
conference in the capital.
"We were returned to Islamabad by a helicopter, without
getting in the way of its operational duties, and are now
continuing with our programme.
"I`d like to thank the Pakistan army for facilitating
this so promptly and efficiently, and indeed the close
protection officers from Pakistan and Britain who so quickly
got us out of that difficult situation."
Officials said the protest over electricity blocked the
main road between Islamabad and the northwestern city of
Peshawar. Power cuts have been exacerbated by the worst floods
in 80 years which have ravaged infrastructure.
Mitchell said the protest was "totally unrelated" to
British activities or the "very severe difficulties" in
Pakistan "occasioned by the flooding".
He announced further British support to help fight the
spread of disease and provide shelter, food and medical
supplies, which will mean that British aid will now benefit up
to three million people affected by the floods.