Islamabad: Pakistan Law Minister Babar Awan has confirmed that President Asif Ali Zardari will go ahead with his visit to the United Kingdom despite British Prime Minister David Cameron’s hostile remarks against Pakistan.
Zardari had been facing intense domestic pressure to cancel the trip after Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who was set to accompany the President pulled out saying that Cameron’s remarks were a clear swipe at Pakistani security agencies.
However, Awan said that tours and visits from national leadership were the only means possible to alleviate misconceptions and propagandas against Pakistan, so President Zardari shall continue his UK visit, The News reports.
He also said that it was crucial because of the “bigger issues involved”, which include the long-term strategic relationship between the two countries.
The Foreign Office’s failure to announce Zardari’s UK visit along with his visit to France had fuelled speculations that the visit might be cancelled.
Zardari will now be on a back-to-back trip, with his three-day visit to France, starting today, followed by a five-day trip to UK.
According to a press release issued by the Pakistan High Commission in London, during his visit, Zardari will meet Cameron at his country residence in Chequers, on the outskirts of London, on August 06.
He will also meet newly-elected Pakistani origin members of the UK Parliament.
On August 07, he will address the Pakistani community at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre.
Earlier, on Wednesday, during his visit to India, Cameron said that Pakistan could not “look both ways” in receiving billions of dollars in aid from Western nations while continuing to “promote the export of terror, whether to India or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world”.
He later defended his comments, and said: “I think it’s important, as I say, to speak frankly about these things to countries that are your friends”.
When asked whether he regretted damaging relations with Pakistan ahead of Zardari’s visit, Cameron said: “I don`t accept that they have been damaged... I look forward to discussing these and other issues (with Zardari)”.