Britain and Pakistan pledge to tackle terrorism, Afghanistan

But Hamid Karzai warns doing a deal with the Taliban could split his country

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron  speaks during a news conference with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. Photograph: Leon Neal/pool/Reuters

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron speaks during a news conference with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. Photograph: Leon Neal/pool/Reuters

 

British prime minister David Cameron pledged to work with Pakistan to fight terrorism and try to bring peace to Afghanistan, while also offering to help with security at sporting events possibly enabling foreign teams to visit.

In a brief visit to Pakistan today, Mr Cameron became the first head of government to hold face-to-face talks with prime minister Nawaz Sharif since his election in May, a victory Mr Cameron said could translate into a “golden moment” for Pakistan.

Mr Cameron met Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul yesterday to try to reinvigorate stalled peace talks there, but his diplomatic demarche fell flat after Mr Karzai warned that doing a deal with the Taliban could split his country.

Today, Mr Cameron told Mr Sharif that Afghanistan and Pakistan had a mutual interest in ensuring one another were stable and prosperous, a sentiment echoed by Mr Sharif who said any peace process should be inclusive and Afghan-led.

“I know that you and President Karzai will work together towards those ends,” Mr Cameron told Mr Sharif.

Mr Cameron, who hosted for talks in February about Afghanistan’s future, has cast himself as an honest broker able to use Britain’s relations with Pakistan to get the Taliban to talk peace.

Mr Cameron’s visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan come barely a week after the United States revealed the Taliban were to open a long-anticipated office in Qatar, making a meeting with the Afghan state and the Taliban a possibility.

Those talks collapsed within days after Mr Karzai objected to the manner in which the office was opened, however, and Taliban militants later attacked central Kabul.

Mr Cameron said today that Britain and Pakistan needed to step up their efforts to root out extremism and terrorism. Sharif said both had agreed to tackle the problems “with renewed vigour”.

Britain would offer Pakistan more expert help with its counter terrorism strategy and more equipment to tackle improvised explosive devices, Mr Cameron said in a separate statement, including sharing its knowledge of protecting sporting events.

London hosted the Olympic Games last year, under the protection of the largest peacetime operation ever by Britain’s armed forces.

No foreign cricket team has toured Pakistan since 2009 when militants attacked a Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in which six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed and members of the touring side wounded.

Last week, South Africa became the lastest team to say it would not travel to Pakistan due to security concerns. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the series would be played in the United Arab Emirates.

England also cited security concerns last year when it chose to play Pakistan in the UAE.

Reuters