David Cameron mounts charm offensive amid fallout with Pakistan
Pakistani President Zardari considered canceling his visit to Britain later this week after UK Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that Pakistan was 'promoting the export of terror.' Poor judgment or plain speaking?
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“The difficulty is that Mr. Cameron’s statement has come at a time which is extremely crucial and delicate when the international community, led by the US, are trying their utmost to get Pakistan fully onside in reaching some kind of viable settlement in Afghanistan, and Mr. Cameron’s statement could be a set back to these efforts," he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Trouble for security cooperation
For now, the episode has upset the long-running and expansive collaboration between Britain and Pakistan on intelligence and security matters.
A trip to the UK by Pakistani intelligence officials was canceled last weekend, and Zardari has been under pressure call off his visit. While in Paris on Monday holding talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Zardari appeared to deliver a jab at Cameron, saying that France considers Pakistan "a reliable partner."
Briefing journalists Monday, Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said Zardari would present Cameron with "the facts on the ground" at a meeting Friday in the prime minister’s rural residence, Chequers.
"The president of Pakistan will explain and have a dialogue and good discussion, and he will explain the facts to the new government over here," Mr. Kaira said.
"We hope that the new leadership over here, when they get the exact picture, will agree with us."
In the long run, the row is expected to have little real impact on relations between the two – especially as Pakistan’s old colonial master remains its second-largest trading partner.
But some suggest that Cameron’s remarks will linger in the minds of one particular section of Britain’s population.
“If there is going to be any real fallout – although it remains to be seen – then that will probably surface among the 1 million Britons of Pakistani descent,” adds Dr. Shaikh. “I think that Mr. Cameron’s statement will cause anger and frustration within that community. This could have some quite significant implications in relation to the radicalization of some sections.
“If Pakistan also chooses to be difficult at this point about security cooperation in relation to those Britons of Pakistani descent, then that could be important.”
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