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Pakistani Army, intelligence elements back terrorists: British MPs

A powerful group of British MPs expressed concern that elements within Pakistani Army and intelligence services do not share their civilian government's resolve to fight Islamic terrorists and continue to be fixated on India.

world Updated: Aug 02, 2009 16:47 IST

A powerful group of British MPs expressed concern on Sunday that elements within Pakistani Army and intelligence services do not share their civilian government's resolve to fight Islamic terrorists and continue to be fixated on India.

The concern expressed by the British parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee was echoed by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, the minister of state for foreign affairs who quit his job last week citing personal and family reasons.

In a report published on Sunday, the Foreign Affairs Committee also said that whereas Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had pointed to terrorism as the main enemy of his country, "large parts of the security establishment" of Pakistan continue to be fixated on India.

The report on Afghanistan and Pakistan commended the civilian government in Islamabad for having taken some "important steps" to counter-insurgency at a considerable cost in terms of military lives lost.

"We welcome the increasing recognition at senior levels within the Pakistani military of the need for a recalibrated approach to militancy but we remain concerned that this may not necessarily be replicated elsewhere within the army and ISI," it added.

The report welcomed Zardari's recent remarks that he regards terrorism rather than India the real threat to his country.

"However, we further conclude that doubts remain as to whether the underlying fundamentals of Pakistani security policy have changed sufficiently to realise the goals of long-term security and stability in Afghanistan," it added.

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown offered a similar view to the committee.

He said, "We are convinced that [the ISI] is on board institutionally, and that the leaderships of both the army and the ISI are supportive of the president and his strategy, which is reflected through the meetings that we have had with (Chief of Army Staff) General Kayani."

"There is a difficulty, that within the ISI there may remain individuals who have some sympathy with these groups," said Malloch-Brown, a respected minister.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said, "President Zardari's comments at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (in June) as well as his recent remarks to the effect that terrorism, not India, was now seen by Pakistan as the greater threat, while welcome, do not dispel the suspicion that a large part of his country's security establishment continues to be fixated on India and on the possibility of a future military conflict between the two countries."

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