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UK-Pakistan Relations

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

8. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Government of Pakistan on UK-Pakistan relations. (257921)

The Foreign Secretary is in regular contact with members of the Pakistani Government and spoke most recently with President Zardari on 9 February and with Foreign Minister Qureshi on 7 February. He discussed a wide range of common issues, including the Mumbai attacks, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.

We are, of course, aware that the Foreign Secretary recently raised Kashmir with the Government of India, and presume that he also did so with the Government of Pakistan. Is it the Government’s view that a solution in Kashmir is integral to a wider solution in the region as a whole, and does the Minister agree that—in some way and at some time—the people of Kashmir must be involved in any discussions about what is, after all, their future?

The Foreign Secretary has made it clear that our position on Kashmir has not changed. The key priority at the moment is for the Government of Pakistan to act on Lashkar-e-Taiba. That is what we are arguing for both publicly and privately.

Does the Minister agree that some of the sources of instability in Afghanistan lie in Pakistan, including activities on the north-west frontier and the recruiting and training of young Taliban in Pakistani madrassahs? Have those matters been broached with the Pakistan Government?

Yes, there are clearly issues that are of mutual interest between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The increasingly close relationship between the Governments of those two countries is a source of optimism, and we raise those issues with them regularly.

Does the Minister agree that the stability of Pakistan is vital for any progress to be made in that region of the world? If I may pick up on the question put by the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), what happens in Pakistan will impact directly on Afghanistan. What hope can the Minister give the House that his discussions with his opposite numbers are progressive, and will contribute to the peace and stability of the region?

It is absolutely our intention to ensure that we do everything that we can to make progress on these issues. It is not within our gift to make that happen, but we are certainly working to that end. Counter-terrorism is a key aspect of our relationship with Pakistan, which is one of our key allies. We will keep working on these issues with Pakistan, in both our interests and those of the whole international community.