Afganistan and Pakistan

Here is the statement made by the Prime Minister.

Mike Gapes questioned the Prime Minister during his statement. here is their exchange

Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): However effective the Karzai Government, with their history of corruption, are in meeting the benchmarks, is not the reality that we are in Afghanistan for our own national security reasons? In that context, the Prime Minister rightly praised the efforts of the Pakistani Government, but how confident is he that the civilian Government in Pakistan have the power to shift the focus of their military and intelligence agencies to combat al-Qaeda, as opposed to their obsession with India?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend, who is an expert on these affairs, is absolutely right to draw attention to the importance of Pakistan and to the fact that, as I said, we are in Afghanistan for national security reasons. Because there is a terrorist threat to the people of our country, it is not enough for us to defend ourselves within our own borders. It is important that we try to deal with that terrorist threat at source.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, I have talked to President Zardari, as I said, and I also keep in touch with the opposition leaders in Pakistan while at the same time talking to the military-as do other members of the Government-and, of course, our armed forces. We can be sure that the Pakistan authorities are aware that they have to deal with the threat posed by the Pakistan Taliban and also by al-Qaeda. We can also be clear that we have to give the Pakistan authorities the support to enable them to do that.

I think that we must also take a long-term view of Pakistan. Its population will rise dramatically in future years, and the number of young people in the country who are subject to influence by terrorist and extremist groups is large. Given the number of madrassahs that exist in Pakistan's education system, there is a problem with young people being indoctrinated with extremist ideologies.

The Secretary of State for International Development, who is now in the Chamber, is right to insist that we put resources into education. He and the Foreign Secretary have undertaken a review of Pakistan's education system which is to be led by Professor Michael Barber. They are making a number of proposals that will improve the text books as well as the quality of education available in the schools of Pakistan, to which we are prepared to devote substantial resources to enable Pakistan to have an education system free of the influences of indoctrination. We want to work with Pakistan on a comprehensive strategy.

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