Aug 29, 2009

Brown reaffirms £665m pledge for Pakistan

Prime Minister Gordon Brown reaffirmed his government’s support during a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari here on Friday. President Zardari stressed the need for strengthening Pakistan’s capability to combat militants.

The two leaders discussed measures to boost economic activity in Pakistan and increase Pakistan’s exports to European markets.

The return of illegal immigrants living in Britain, Pakistan’s relations with India, economic stabilisation, strategic support for fight against militancy and the forthcoming meeting of the Friends of Pakistan group were also discussed.

Britain said it would help Pakistan’s education sector by providing textbooks for schoolchildren in border areas and support 300,000 girls from poor families to attend secondary school.

Mr Brown praised Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and said national consensus against militants was key to the success of military operation.

According to presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, the president urged the international community to help Pakistan fight militants and for rehabilitation of displaced persons.

He said that the Pakistan-India joint statement issued in Sharm El Sheikh should provide necessary impetus for resumption of composite dialogue between the two countries.

He said Pakistan was seriously investigating the Mumbai attacks, but bilateral relations should not be held hostage to the probe.

The president said that Pakistan would work with international partners to stabilise Afghanistan and expressed the hope that trilateral consultation involving the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan would gain strength after presidential elections held in that country.

A Downing Street spokesman said that security in the Pakistan-Afghan border areas was taken up as matter of high priority.

‘The prime minister and the president agreed to tackle the underlying causes of extremism. Mr Brown reiterated our support for Pakistan’s efforts and repeated the UK’s commitment for 665 million pounds over four years. Our development programme in Pakistan is our second largest in the world. We aim to spend around half of this in critical border areas.’ Mr Brown pressed Mr Zardari to ensure that the aid for the region was properly spent.—Agencies

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