Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari was on Friday given a firm message that Britain remained concerned about extremists operating from Pakistani soil when he met Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Downing Street.
The security situation in Pakistan and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border dominated the talks with the two leaders agreeing that a “comprehensive” approach was needed to tackle the root causes of extremism.
A Downing Street spokesman said security in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan remained a “high priority.”
Mr. Brown reiterated Britain’s pledge to invest £665 million over the next four years in programmes to tackle terrorism. Half of this amount would be spent in border areas where extremism is more widespread.
The spokesman said a “comprehensive” approach to tackling extremist tendencies would include better governance, economic development and “appropriate military pressure” on militant groups.
The meeting — their second in Downing Street in recent months — was held against the backdrop of the Afghan elections and a growing concern here about the security situation in the region.
While supporting Pakistan’s belated military crackdown on militants, Britain believes Islamabad needs to do more to keep up the pressure.
Meanwhile, British ambassador to Afghanistan Mark Sedwill expressed concern over allegations of election fraud saying that at least 35 to 40 complaints of rigging, if upheld, could be “material to the outcome.”
His remarks came amid reports of an “explosive” meeting between the U.S. special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, and the Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai over the conduct of the elections. Quoting “multiple” sources, the BBC reported that Mr. Holbrooke stormed out of the meeting after Mr. Karzai reacted angrily to his criticism.
However, both sides denied the incident.