Brown to seek economic support for Pakistan


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has assured President Pervez Musharraf that he will contact the world leaders in weeks time, seeking more economic and political support to Pakistan which will help stemming the scourge of terrorism and extremism.
During joint stakeout, after one-and-half hour talks, more than the scheduled time, which were mostly exclusive at 10 Downing Street, the two leaders described their talks extremely useful and productive. They expressed the joint resolve to continue the fight against terrorism and also pushing forward their economic cooperation in diverse fields.
At the outset, the British Prime Minister said the two countries enjoyed strong links and close cooperation at bilateral and regional levels, describing Pakistan a key ally in the fight against terrorism.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that stable Pakistan was essential for peace and stability in the region, and its ability to meet the growing threats of violence was vital for the global community.
The two sides must forge stronger economic cooperation, which was imperative for Pakistan to meet the challenges it was facing, he added. He was confident that the electoral process in Pakistan would be fair, free and transparent and also credible and would remain on track.
Brown said they discussed the steps, which could be helpful in defeating extremism and terrorism. He said his country would provide any amount of assistance, including forensic, to Pakistan in the investigation of the assassination of former prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. President Musharraf, in his remarks, said the two leaders had an excellent interaction, and said he reinforced whatever the Prime Minister had just said.
He said they discussed further enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries, and appreciated the British Prime Minister’s desire in assisting Islamabad in the socio-economic uplift of the country. The President said they also discussed further strengthening the cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Musharraf said he briefed the British Prime Minister about the holistic and multi-pronged strategy to address the complex issue of extremism and terrorism. He said defeating the menace was a challenge for Pakistan, and expressed the firm resolve that the country would meet it successfully.
The President said he also briefed the British leader about the democratic transition in Pakistan and holding of fair, free and peaceful elections on February 18. He reiterated the resolve that peaceful transition would be completed after the elections, hoping it would lead to stable government in the country.
Replying to a question, the British Prime Minister said his country would continue to assist Pakistan economically, and assured that the two sides would further bolster their ties in the fields of trade, economic, investment and joint ventures.
Gordon Brown said he realised the significance of increased economic assistance and cooperation for Pakistan for combating the scourge of terrorism. He said he would contact the leadership of the developed countries for opening window of cooperation for Pakistan in trade and investment, enabling the country to fight extremism and terrorism by bringing down poverty, illiteracy and improving education facilities.
Responding to a question about the security steps taken on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, President Musharraf said steps had been taken to ensure effective check on movement of militants across the border, including sealing of border and its selective fencing.
He refuted the impression that Pakistan was not succeeding against terrorism, stating that al Qaida had almost been defeated and the remaining few were on the run. He said Pakistan would continue to fight militant Taliban.
To a question, Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his support for the “Jirga process” between Pakistan and Afghanistan. These steps, he added, helped reduce the crossing by 42 percent from Pakistan into Afghanistan, which had created desperation among the militants of Baituallah Mehsud, who was attempting to destabilise the country, and detracting the country’s democratic transition.
About the incident of taking school children hostage in NWFP, Prime Minister Brown said it was unfortunate that innocent children were made to suffer. President Musharraf informed him that it was not a hostage-taking incident, but in fact the militants running from law-enforcement agencies, took refuge in the school, taking the children hostage, who were later released.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2008

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