Pakistan summons British envoy following dispute over UK prime minister’s terror claimBy AP
Monday, August 2, 2010
Pakistan summons UK envoy following terror dispute
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan summoned the top British official in the country Monday amid a diplomatic spat over comments by Britain’s leader suggesting the South Asian nation exports terrorism.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments last week were amplified by the fact that he made them while visiting Pakistan’s nuclear rival, India. The two countries have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain over 60 years ago.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told British High Commissioner Adam Thomson “that terrorism was a global issue and had to be dealt with by all countries in a spirit of cooperation, rather than putting the entire onus on any one country.”
Cameron, who took office in May, said last week that Pakistan must not be allowed to “promote the export of terror whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world.”
The remarks outraged Pakistani officials. Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain, called the comments “an immature reaction from an immature politician.”
Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed that Thomson and Qureshi discussed Cameron’s comments Monday.
But the British prime minister has no plans to back down from his remarks, said a spokeswoman for Cameron’s Downing Street office, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
Pakistan insists that it has done more than any other country to combat terrorism, sending the army to fight Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants within its borders and cooperating closely with Western intelligence agencies.
But its spy agency has long been accused of secretly aiding Afghanistan’s Taliban and other Islamist militants.
The diplomatic row prompted Pakistan’s powerful spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, to call off a trip to London planned for this week.
But Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari ignored domestic calls for him to cancel his trip to meet Cameron in Britain, also later this week.
The British prime minister planned to discuss his remarks when he meets with Zardari on Friday at Chequers, Cameron’s residence northwest of London, said his spokeswoman.
“After meeting with the president, we hope the British government will change their perspective,” Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told the BBC.
Cameron’s comments have sparked protests in Pakistan, including one by an Islamist group in the southern city of Karachi where demonstrators burned an effigy of Cameron.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said Cameron was aware of the incident, adding “clearly people have the right to protest.”
Britain has “very good, strong relations” with Pakistan over a range of issues, including counterterrorism and development aid, she said.
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