David Cameron’s highly-publicised visit to India within weeks of becoming Prime Minister and his remarks in Mumbai that Pakistan was “exporting” terror flowed from the Tories’ commitment to America to improve relations with New Delhi and be “tougher” on Islamabad, WikiLeaks documents show.
According to a leaked cable from the U.S. ambassador in Britain, Louise Susman, published by the Guardian on Wednesday, the Tories who were then in the Opposition claimed that they were less dependent than Labour on votes of British-Pakistani community and were thus better placed to be tough with Pakistan while warming up to India.
The cable dated December 10, 2009 -- five months before the British general elections in May that brought the Tories to power – quoted Liam Fox, a senior Tory figure and now the Defence Secretary, as saying that under Labour, British foreign policy towards the subcontinent had become “skewed to Pakistan”.
“Fox criticised the Labour Government for policies which reinforce the Indian Government’s long-held view that HMG’s (Her Majesty’s Government) foreign relations on the subcontinent are ‘skewed to Pakistan’,” the cable said.
It quoted Mr. Fox as saying that the Tories were “less dependent” than the Labour on voters of Pakistani origin.
“Cameron’s approach can now be seen to have been prefigured in Washington’s previously secret dispatches,” the Guardian said pointing out that barely a month after becoming Prime Minister he led a high-power trade delegation to India seeking an “enhanced” relationship with New Delhi, and sparked a diplomatic furore when he accused Pakistan of “looking both ways” in its approach to tackling terrorism.
According to another leaked U.S. embassy cable, Mr. Cameron and “an eager group from his frontbench” raised their concerns about Pakistan during a meeting with a congressional delegation led by the Republican senator John McCain in 2008.
“Cameron...raised Pakistan, noting that 60,000 individuals travel to Pakistan from the U.K. each year and that this has implications for the U.K.’s own significant domestic ‘terror threat’,” the cable said.
The issue of Pakistan and terrorism was also discussed at a meeting with Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, on April 9, 2009. A U.S. embassy cable recorded that the “Conservative Party leader agreed that HMG ‘must get UK-Pakistan relations right’ and stressed the Conservatives’ commitment to this goal should they assume power.”