Cameron not backing down from Pakistan controversy

Prime
Minister David Cameron has defended his comments about Pakistan’s record on
tackling terrorism as he completed his trip to India.

At
a press conference with Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, he said no-one was
in “any doubt” there were terrorist groups operating in Pakistan.

The
Pakistan government had made real progress but must do more to “crack down
on and eliminate” them, he said.

He
said he was “looking forward” to talks with Pakistan’s president.

President
Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to the UK next week is likely to be dominated by the
fallout from Mr Cameron’s trip to India where he warned Pakistan about
“promoting the export of terror” and being allowed to “look both
ways” on the issue.

His
remarks were criticised by Pakistani officials and led to him being accused of
“damaging the prospects of regional peace”.

In
his last official engagement of the trip – a press conference with Indian Prime
Minister Singh – Mr Cameron again stood by his remarks.

“We
should be fair to the Pakistan government that they have taken steps in recent
years to combat some of the terrorism in their own midst,” he said.

“But
we need to go on encouraging this action to take place so we can reduce and
eliminate the threat of terrorism, whether here in India, Afghanistan or on the
streets on London.”

Asked
whether he would be similarly candid when he met the Pakistan president in
Britain next week, Mr Cameron said he would.

“I
think the right way is to discuss these things frankly, openly and clearly. I
look forward to having discussions next week, including with the Pakistan
president.”

His
remarks followed the leaking of US documents on the Wikileaks website in which
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency was accused of secretly helping
the Afghan insurgency.

Pakistan’s
High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, criticised Mr Cameron for
choosing to believe leaks that the official said lacked both credibility and
corroboration.

Writing
in the Guardian, he said: “One would have wished that the prime minister
would have considered Pakistan’s enormous role in the war on terror and the
sacrifices it has rendered since 9/11.

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