Cameron: Pakistan terror support unacceptable
Updated on 29 July 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his decision to speak "frankly" about Pakistan's record on terrorism and tells Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam that "it's not acceptable for there to be within Pakistan, support for terrorist groups that can do so much damage"
David Cameron has defended comments he made yesterday warning Pakistan that it should not be allowed "to promote the export of terror" in the world.
The prime minister was criticised for stepping up the rhetoric against Pakistan over accusations that it supports terrorist groups, whilst on a trip in neighbouring India, a long-term rival nuclear nation to Pakistan.
David Cameron interview in India
Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam interviews David Cameron on the final day of his visit to India. Top of the agenda was the prime minister's comments about Pakistan's alleged links to terrorism.
Read the full interview here.
Yesterday he warned Pakistan that it should not be allowed "to promote the export of terror" in the world. He said it was intolerable that Pakistan should be allowed to "look both ways".
An article in this morning's Guardian quotes Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK saying that Mr Cameron's comments are "damaging the prospects of regional peace."
Today, Mr Cameron appeared to row back on his comments at first, telling Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam: "The point is this, that to be fair to Pakistan, they have made progress in terms of trying to drive out of their country terrorist groups that are both damaging to Pakistan itself, but also damaging to others including Britain in Afghanistan and British people back at home."
But he then said that support for terrorist groups in Pakistan is "not acceptable".
Cameron's Kama Sutra moment in India?
"After interviewing the Prime Minister in Delhi this morning it seems to me that David Cameron is not just attempting a love-in with India, but the full on Kama Sutra.
"India is being bathed in adulation from the old colonial master turned persistent successful suitor.
"And judging by the Delhi front pages the charm offensive appears to have worked."
Read more on Faisal Islam's blog
He told Channel 4 News: "They (Pakistan) have made progress, but obviously we want to keep that progress going and it's important for everyone to understand that it's not acceptable for there to be within Pakistan, support for terrorist groups that can do so much damage, in Pakistan itself, but also in other parts of the world."
Faisal Islam asked the prime minister if he felt the comments had overshadowed his visit to India.
He replied: "I don't think it's overshadowed anything. I mean I just think it's important to speak frankly and clearly about these issues. I've always done that in the past and I'll always want to do that as Prime Minister, but this trip is about building the relationship between Britain and India.
"A relationship which is about the economy, business, finance, but also a relationship that is about security and about common issues like climate change. And on all those issues I think it's been a great success and very, very positive."
Yesterday Foreign Secretary William Hague defended Mr Cameron's comments, claiming that what he said was "absolutely correct".
Hague defends Cameron's Pakistan terror comments
During the visit David Cameron came under criticism after he warned Pakistan that it should not be allowed "to promote the export of terror" in the world. Speaking in India, the prime minister appeared to step up rhetoric against Pakistan over accusations that it supports terrorist groups.
In an interview with Channel 4 News, Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is with the prime minister on his visit, defended Cameron's comments.
"He was saying that we look to Pakistan as we would look to any country to fight terrorism in all its forms. I think what he said was absolutely correct.
"Pakistan has made great progress in many ways in fighting terrorism and there have been terrible terrorist outrages in Pakistan as of course there have been here in India – well all remember what happened at Mumbai but we do look to countries to make sure we’re fighting terrorism at every opportunity and in every form.
"He wasn’t talking about the Pakistan government, but things within Pakistan that caused terrorism elsewhere, and so that is a very important distinction. He was not actually accusing the Pakistan government of doing something.
"Have there been terrorist incidents that have had some connection with Pakistan? Well yes, of course there have been, that is widely acknowledged and so yes we look to all the authorities in Pakistan to do everything they can to combat that now and in the future. As I’ve mentioned were working very closely with India on counterterrorism and we will work with all nations across the world to counter this scourge."
ISI Pakistan links to al-Qaida
The controversy comes after 91,000 secret US Military documents were released by Wikileaks. Within some of the field reports it appeared to show that according to intelligence received by the US military, the Inter-services intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, are involved in many different ways in Afghanistan.
One incident Wikileaks tells Channel 4 News is a warning that ISI agents and five al-Qaida operatives are working together on a mission, crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan to carry out an attack.
One of the most interesting incidents, Wikileaks says is an attempt by an ISI officer to assassinate Afghan president Hamid Karzai, through a Taliban contact.
ISI Karzai assassination plot
In the field report 52171, filed on 22 August 2008, it says that a Pakistani intelligence officer has targeted Afghan president Karzai for assassination.
It then states that a colonel from the ISI had directed a Taliban official to "see that Karzai was assassinated".
The report then says that the Taliban official assigned an individual from the Sarowbi district to assassinate Karzai in a suicide mission at the presidential palace. According to the report there is no information as to how or when this assassination was to be carried out.
Channel 4 News has seen these classified documents, but has been unable to independently verify their authenticity.
Wikileaks Editor Julian Assange told Channel 4 News: "Well there are allegations in there from human intelligence reports - informers talking to the US military about the ISI including attempts to assassinate President Karzai.
"There is a lot of material in there about Pakistan, about the ISI, crossing over the border, firing over border, firing by US troops from Afghanistan into Pakistan, drones over flights and even a plot by the ISI to assassinate Karzai."
Pakistan's ISI (or Inter-Services Intelligence agency) has throughout its 62 years of existence played a unique and rarely uncontroversial role, wedged tightly between its handling of the country's relations with the West and of those Pakistanis who support violent jihad.
Founded shortly after Pakistan gained its independence in 1947, the ISI reached its highest profile when Soviet forces invaded neighbouring Afghanistan just over 30 years later. Through much of the 1980s the agency trained and equipped tens of thousands of the mujahideen fighters who streamed to wage jihad against the Russians.
Crucially the ISI also helped distribute the CIA-supplied Stinger missiles that all but ended hitherto lethal offensives by Soviet planes & helicopters. (This unusual alliance of hardline Islamists and Capitalist ideologues against a shared Communist enemy leads some commentators to blame the West for itself setting in train the forces that would strike it on September 11 2001.)
With Moscow defeated, the ISI began the 1990s by supporting the creation of the Afghan Taliban to preserve Pakistan's strategic influence in the region. But, long after the US-led coalition claimed victory in 2001 in routing the Taliban from Kabul, many analysts have accused elements within the ISI of continuing to train and support the jihadists against the West.
Julian Assange said: "Now a number of these reports, including the assassinate plot, could be erroneous. These are informers coming and saying 'I heard this guy is involved in an assassinate plot', a lot of these are probably burns and designed to take out a competitor or enemy, it doesn't mean the allegations are true.
"That's what is true about the material - it reveals how difficult the intelligence environment is when there are incentives to say information for money.
"As a result, military command can say anything they want about what is happening. There is always a man in Afghanistan or Pakistan who is willing to say the right thing."