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Pakistan: Taliban

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect of continuing Taliban insurgency in Pakistan on the Government’s policies on the region. (267673)

The Government remain deeply concerned about the grave threat that Taleban militants and violent extremists in Pakistan pose to Pakistan and to the stability of the region.

We are concerned about the spread of the Taleban’s influence in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and by the peace deal in Swat. We need to be confident that any such deal will end violence, not create space for further violence. Previous deals have not provided a sustainable solution to Swats’ problems.

We consider that our objectives in Afghanistan cannot be achieved without a secure and stable Pakistan that is focused on tackling the serious problem of Afghan militants operating from Pakistan’s frontier areas. A long-term, comprehensive approach is required, bringing together robust, monitored and enforceable security measures on cross-border movement with improvements in development and governance.

Furthermore, we assess that insurgency in Pakistan creates space for the recruitment, training and operation of other violent extremist groups, including Al Qaida, which pose a clear security threat to the UK and the wider world.

Insecurity created by the insurgency is also a fundamental obstacle to shared aims of development, economic growth and the fulfilment of human rights in Pakistan and the wider region.

The UK seeks to help Pakistan to develop the capacity to tackle the threat of militancy and to build a stable, prosperous and democratic country that is equipped to address the grievances which can result in violent extremism.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Pakistan on the position of the Taliban in Swat region. (267987)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials based at our High Commission in Islamabad continue to hold frequent discussions about the political and security situation in Pakistan with a wide range of Pakistani ministers, politicians and officials. The security situation in Swat has been a regular theme of discussions, including recently with Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last discussed the broader political and security situation in Pakistani with President Asif Zardari on Friday 12 March 2009.