David Cameron stood his ground on his comment that Pakistan was “looking two ways” on terror. The British Prime Minister, at a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, said he will discuss with Pakistan “frankly, clearly and openly” on the need to eliminate terror aimed at India.
“We want to work with Pakistan to make it fight LeT and Afghan or Pakistan Taliban,” he said. “Pakistan has taken steps and it needs to take further steps to reduce terrorism in Afghanistan, India and the streets of London.”
He said the country should be encouraged to do so. “I think the right thing is to have a discussion with Pakistan frankly, clearly and openly. Next week, I will have discussions with the President of Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s role in supporting Taliban attacks while claiming to be an ally in the war against terror is an open secret. However, as a former British army general told BBC radio, it is usually deliberately “underplayed” in public by London.
Cameron, with his bluntness, has broken the British tradition.
The only clarification his government has made is to say the statement doesn’t constitute criticism of Pakistan government.
His comments have triggered an angry response from there and caused a stir in Britain. “Terrorists have no religion... Terrorists’ networks, as the UK knows full well, mutate and operate in different regions,” the Pakistan foreign ministry said.
Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan said, “One would have wished that the Prime Minister would have considered Pakistan’s enormous role in the war on terror ... There seems to be more reliance on information based on intelligence leaks...” In the UK, commentary was divided.
“The reality is that Mr Cameron’s utterances are bang in line with British foreign policy. His language may be shorn of diplomatic niceties, but the sentiments are familiar,” said the conservative Daily Telegraph.
The Left-wing Guardian wrote, “Mr Cameron should remember Britain’s relationship to Pakistan will be just as important, if it is to extricate its troops from Afghanistan.”