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Pakistan Furious About Cameron's Terrorism Allegations

29.07.2010 11:07

A diplomatic row has broken out between the United Kingdom and Pakistan after U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron accused elements of Pakistan's security and intelligence services of promoting the export of terrorism.

Pakistani officials are reportedly furious about Cameron's remarks and say they have damaged the prospects for regional peace.

Speaking in Bangalore on July 28, Cameron opened a diplomatic rift between Islamabad and London when he suggested that Pakistan is "looking both ways" on exporting terrorism while demanding respect as a democracy.

"We want to see a strong and a stable and democratic Pakistan. But we cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country 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," Cameron said.

With his visit aimed at improving economic links between India and the United Kingdom, Cameron named several terrorism groups that, according to India, are sponsored by Pakistan -- including the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e Taiba.

"It is not right, as I said in my speech, to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror. Democratic states that want to be part of the developed world cannot do that. And the message to Pakistan from the [United States] and from the [United Kingdom] is very clear on that point," Cameron said.

Pakistani officials responded angrily overnight. A commentary written for "The Guardian" newspaper's website by Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain, accuses Cameron of damaging the prospects for regional peace.

Hasan also criticized Cameron for believing allegations contained in the secret military reports on the Afghanistan war that were released this week by WikiLeaks.org -- the online whistle-blower.

Those include allegations that elements of Pakistan's ISI intelligence service was supporting cross-border attacks in Afghanistan by militants as recently as last year.

Hasan said Cameron seems to be relying more "on information based on intelligence leaks which lack credibility of proof" rather than "Pakistan's enormous role in the war on terror and the sacrifices" it has made since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Cameron on July 29 refused to back down from his comment, telling Britain's Sky TV that he has "perhaps a novel view of saying what you think and being frank and clear about these things." He also repeated that Pakistan needs to work together more with the international community to shut down terrorist groups "which continue to operate both within and outside Pakistan."

Karzai Reacts To WikiLeaks

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai entered into the diplomatic fray on July 29, questioning why, with so many intelligence reports about links between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and the Taliban, NATO does not carry out more attacks against militants who have "sanctuaries, sources of funding, and training" in Pakistan.

"It is a different question whether Afghanistan has the ability to tackle this. It is the question of our national ability. To the extent of our ability, we are endeavoring either through talks or other means. But our allies have this capability [to attack the sanctuaries]. The question now is why they are not taking action," Karzai said.

Karzai told reporters that he has ordered his cabinet ministers to study the war reports that were released by WikiLeaks.org -- especially those related to Pakistan and civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

"If you remember for years we have said that the fight against terrorism should not be fought in Afghanistan's villages and houses," Karzai said.

"And it is not for the Afghan people to become martyrs or for the army [to have to carry out this fight alone], but [the fight should target] the sanctuaries, and the sources of funding and training [of terrorism] and they lie outside Afghanistan."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told RFE/RL this week that care needs to be taken by anyone who studies the more than 91,000 reports leaked by troops in the field, embassies with relations to Afghanistan, intelligence officers and, especially, from informers.

He acknowledged that some Afghan informers may have issued dubious information in order to "knock out a competitor, a detested neighbor or a family enemy." But he also noted that U.S. intelligence officers often rated the reliability of informers in the reports about Pakistan's ISI.

Pakistan has taken the rare step of issuing an official rebuttal about those reports. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit described the allegations of Afghan informers about Pakistan as "unverifiable," "outdated," and "self-serving."

Pakistani lawmaker Khurshid Ahmad, vice president of the Islamist Jamaat-e Islami party, said 90 percent of the reports alleging Pakistani links with militants were "attributed to Afghan intelligence agencies, whose reports are totally unreliable and fabricated."

Ahmad said it was "unacceptable" for Cameron to make his statements about Pakistan on the basis of such reports.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari is due to visit Britain next week. With plans to stay at Cameron's country retreat of Chequers, political observers expect to hear more about the diplomatic dispute between London and Islamabad in the days ahead.

compiled from RFE/RL and agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Pakistan_Disappointed_With_Cameron_Remarks_On_Terror/2112894.html

Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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