Pakistan summons UK envoy over Cameron's comments

LONDON (Reuters) - Pakistan summoned Britain’s envoy in Islamabad on Monday over comments by Prime Minister David Cameron suggesting it was not doing enough to fight terrorism, officials from both countries said.

Supporters of Shabab-e-Milli, a youth wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, shout slogans and burn an effigy of Prime Minister David Cameron during a protest in Karachi July 31, 2010. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Cameron, speaking last Wednesday during a visit to India, told Islamabad that it must not become a base for militants and “promote the export of terror” across the globe.

The comments caused anger in Pakistan where protesters in Karachi burnt an effigy of Cameron. Pakistan’s spy chief cancelled a trip to Britain in protest, though President Asif Ali Zardari still plans to visit Britain this week.

Adam Thomson, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, was summoned to a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to clarify the remarks, a Pakistani official said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Qureshi told Thomson that terrorism was a global issue and had to be dealt with by all countries, rather than putting the onus on any one country.

Qureshi said Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism and its efforts against violent extremism could not be negated.

According to the Pakistani statement, Thomson explained the context of Cameron’s remarks and said Britain looked forward to further strengthening its strategic relations with Pakistan.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said Thomson and Qureshi had discussed “a broad range of bilateral issues.”


Cameron’s remarks in India, Pakistan’s arch regional rival, followed classified U.S. military reports published on the WikiLeaks website detailing concerns that Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency had aided Taliban militants.

A spokeswoman for Cameron said he stood by his comments. “Pakistan is already ... taking action against extremism. The meeting on Friday is going to be a good opportunity to discuss further what action is being taken,” she said.

Zardari was due to arrive in Britain on Tuesday after a visit to France where he is expected to discuss Islamabad’s role in combating terrorism with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Pakistani leader is scheduled to meet Cameron on Friday at the British prime minister’s official country residence, Chequers, before addressing a rally of political supporters among Britain’s million-strong Pakistani community on Saturday.

Human rights group Amnesty International urged Zardari to use his visit to Britain to announce reforms to combat human rights violations in northwestern Pakistan, where the government has launched a military offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Pakistan’s help is crucial for U.S. and Western efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan, where Britain has 9,500 troops battling the Taliban.

Britain gave Pakistan almost 130 million pounds of aid in the 2008/09 fiscal year, according to the British government.

Britain said on Monday it was donating 10 million pounds to flood relief efforts in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has been criticised for its response to the disaster that has killed more than 1,000 people.

Additional reporting by Chris Allbritton in Islamabad and Estelle Shirbon in London; Editing by Louise Ireland and Mark Heinrich