Zardari arrives in UK for tense visit

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 14:47

London: President Asif Ali Zardari has
arrived here for what is expected to be a tense visit to
Britain in the backdrop of Premier David Cameron`s warning
that Pakistan must stop promoting "export of terror".

Cameron, whose comments in India about Pakistan `looking
both ways` on terrorism sparked a diplomatic row, has also
flatly rejected Zardari`s contention that the NATO forces were
losing the battle in Afghanistan.

Zardari arrived at Heathrow Tuesday night dressed in jeans
with his daughter Asifa and son Bilawal and was later driven
to the Churchill Hotel in London`s West End, where a crowd of
protesters had gathered.

Zardari is facing criticism for not cancelling the
official visit to Britain after Cameron`s comments in India,
and also for being away from Pakistan at a time when the
country is facing unprecedented floods.

On his part, Cameron refused to back down on his remarks
he made in India and said he had no regrets over his comments
about Pakistan`s involvement in terror. He said the two
countries` relationship could "survive speaking frankly about
problems".

He said in a radio interaction in the West Midlands
yesterday: "I gave a pretty clear and frank answer to a clear
and frank question and I don`t regret that at all. It is
important to speak frankly about these things while at the
same time, as I did in India, recognising that in Pakistan
they themselves have suffered terribly from terrorism."

"The President himself lost his wife (Benazir Bhutto) to
terrorists but that only reinforces the fact that we have to
work with them to close down the terror networks that are in
Pakistan that threaten our soldiers in Afghanistan, have
threatened innocent people in India and have threatened
innocent people all over the world, including here in the
UK," Cameron said.

He also rejected Zardari`s claim that NATO forces were
losing the battle of hearts and minds in Afghanistan.

"We`re protecting a large percentage of the population
(in central Helmand province) keeping them free from terror
and, in the areas that we are in, you now see markets
functioning and schools open ... and life is actually able to
go on. So I don`t accept that we`re losing the battle of
hearts and minds," the British Prime Minister said.

Cameron said: "It is very difficult, it`s very tough what
we`re asking our troops to do, but there`s a basic programme
here, which is to protect the people in a classic
counter-insurgency programme, build up the Afghan Army and
police and as they are capable of taking care of their own
security, we will be able to leave."

Zardari is due to meet Cameron on Friday at the Prime
Minister`s country residence, Chequers. He is also scheduled
to attend a convention of the Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) in
Birmingham on August 7.

Bilawal was appointed chairman of the PPP after the
assassination of his mother Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.
Bilawal recently graduated from Christ Church College, Oxford.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 14:47

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