British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India will not be without its difficulties, and in the area of strategic ties, the shadow of Afghanistan looms. But the British leader told HT India and Britain had a shared interest in seeing a stable Afghanistan.
After pleasing New Delhi in 2010 with his comments about Pakistan “looking both ways” on terrorism, Britain has been careful not to anger Islamabad any more in the runup to British troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014. More than 400 UK troops have died in Afghanistan began in 2001 – a toll that no Prime Minister can ignore.
However, the second trilateral summit held in London on February 4 between Cameron, Presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Zardari of Pakistan is said to have caused some worry in New Delhi about Pakistan’s role – a view that has surprised British sources.
In his exclusive interview, Cameron said he kicked off the trilateral talks last year with two aims: “As well as training up the Afghan forces so they are capable of securing their own country, we also support a longer term political process that brings peace and stability to the region too. And I know that this is what Indians want to see as well.”
Cameron said any peace deal should be “Afghan led, fully supported by its neighbours. But it’s clear the Taliban must break with international terrorism. That includes not just with Al Qaeda, but with groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba too.”
The comments, with their implicit criticism of Pakistani authorities, go some way in meeting Indian concerns, but top British sources admit to areas of difference in foreign policy.
“We have to get it right together,” the sources said.
Swraj Paul hits out at UK’s new visa system
London: Ahead of PM David Cameron’s visit to India, Lord Swraj Paul, Chancellor of two leading UK varsities, has hit out at the government’s new visa system that has led to a fall in the number of Indian students coming to the UK.
According to the UK Border Agency, the number of student visas issued from India in 2010 was 41,000, which dropped to 32,000 in 2011. Paul said the government must allow them to work in the UK for two years after their