Afghanistan and Pakistan

I spoke in the debate yesterday when I questioned the Foreign Secretary Davuid Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague and called for co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and India and Pakistan in combating terrorism.

Here is what I said and their responses.

Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): My right hon. Friend will know that the Foreign Affairs Committee is about to begin an inquiry into Pakistan and Afghanistan; no doubt he and Ministers will give evidence to us in coming months. He mentioned the Durand line. Does he agree that one of the fundamental problems in the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is that the Afghan Government do not accept that border and there is almost open movement between the two countries, which makes it almost impossible to deal with the problem of terrorism and insurgency on both sides?

David Miliband: I would certainly say that disputes over the Durand line get in the way of the sort of co-operation that is necessary. However, as I shall say later, the fact that President Karzai and President Zadari have broken the taboo of the past eight years and are now working together, rather than pointing fingers at each other, is one of the important steps forward that has happened in the past six or seven months.

Mike Gapes: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that co-operation between India and Pakistan in combating terrorism is also extremely important, and that it is a tragedy that the people who carried out the Mumbai attacks—who were also responsible for the bombings in Pakistan to which he referred—have been successful in that they have managed to create a situation in which the Indian and Pakistani Governments do not have good relations and are not co-operating?
Mr. Hague: It would undoubtedly have been one of the objectives of those who carried out those terrorist attacks to make relations between India and Pakistan worse and to reduce the effectiveness of their security co-operation. That is why all of us in the House look to the leaders of India and Pakistan to work together on a range of issues and to co-operate closely on the security challenge that they face.

posted 6 February 2009


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