Britain’s Cameron in Pakistan seeking ‘fresh start’


    ISLAMABAD: British Prime Minister David Cameron will call for a new start in relations with Pakistan on Tuesday, eight months after sparking a diplomatic row by saying Pakistan should not be allowed to “look both ways” on terrorism.Cameron, who made those controversial comments on a trip to India in July 2010, will meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad, seeking to improve co-operation on counter-terrorism operations and Afghanistan.“Let’s make today a ‘fresh start’ in our relationship,” Cameron will say in a speech, according to extracts released by his office before he arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday.To back up his olive branch, Cameron will make a pledge of 650 million pounds ( $1 . 0 5 billion ) t o help build schools, train teachers and buy textbooks . The package could be Britain’s biggest overseas education project .The four-year plan , which will have to be matched by Pakistan to reach fruition, is intended to put four million children into school and is seen by British officials as way to reduce extremism.A healthy relationship with US ally Pakistan is seen as key to bringing an end to the decade-long Afghan campaign, in which Britain has committed about 9,500 troops.The British government has justified its involvement in the war in Afghanistan by saying the majority of terrorist plots uncovered in Britain have their roots in the lawless Afghan-Pakistan border region.Pakistan’s help on tackling militancy is crucial to tackling the threat from terrorism in Britain, officials say.While the West has been frustrated by Pakistani efforts to fight militancy in the past, the British government believes Islamabad has made progress in recent months in parts of the northwest where Al-Qaeda and the Taleban take shelter. Look both waysCameron sparked a row with Pakistan with his speech in the Indian city of Bangalore last July.“We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) 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,” he said then.Cameron and Zardari attempted to smooth over the row when the Pakistani leader visited London in August. Former colonial power Britain is home to a sizeable minority of people of Pakistani origin.“I acknowledge that there are challenges that our friendship must overcome,” Cameron will say on Tuesday, calling the relationship with Pakistan “unbreakable.”“Whether it’s relations with India, our security or questions of governance, if we work closely with one another, if we’re clear that we need each other to succeed, we can grasp these difficult issues and move beyond them to a better future,” Cameron will say.The two governments will also hold the first session of a national security dialogue as part of efforts to improve relations.British Chief of Defense Staff David Richards, national security adviser Peter Ricketts and the head of the foreign intelligence services John Sawers are with Cameron.On the Pakistani side, Gilani will be joined in the talks by army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, director-general of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.Britain will also propose sending experts and funds for a counter-explosive training center, which officials say will be a priority for the next year.The two countries will also agree to aim for an increase in bilateral trade to 2.5 billion pounds a year by 2015 from 1.9 billion pounds, with a focus on retail, chemicals and financial services. In return, Britain will get greater access to and dialogue with Pakistan’s top military brass .


    Leave a Reply