Cameron is right: Pakistan does sponsor terrorism


2:11 pm - July 30th 2010

by Dave Osler    


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It is not logically possible for anyone to have ‘gone off script’ during an ‘unscripted appearance’. That David Miliband can construct a sentence accusing David Cameron of such an offence is unfortunate proof that the the control freak mentality that characterised New Labour throughout  the ‘on message’ mid 1990s is alive and well.

The occasion for the outburst came in an appearance on the World at One yesterday, in which the former foreign secretary discussed the current prime minister’s suggestion that elements within the Pakistani state are complicit in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and India.

That this is the case is not in doubt to anyone who reads international relations journals, or even serious newspapers.

The involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence with the Taliban is not something that has only just come to light thanks to the classified material published on WikiLeaks earlier this week. Nor will the idea that the ISI covertly backs Kashmiri militants shock many observers of south Asian affairs.

The spluttered denials from sources in Islamabad lack even a semblance of conviction.

To hear a senior official of Jamaat-i-Islami – a party of clerical authoritarian war criminals – warn Cameron that his words might foment ‘anti-American, anti-West’ sentiment only compounds the irony.

There are many grounds on which it is right for Labour politicians to criticise Cameron and the administration he leads.

But simply stating commonly-known facts in plain English in response to a question at a press conference does not strike me as one of them.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


After the Afghan war logs Wikileaks, anyone who’s still pretending that Pakistan is a reliable ally is delusional. I’m guessing that Dave made his comments with the full blessing of the FCO, probably because they want to make sure we all know this.

Yep.

If there’s one thing that has the New Labour apparatchik reaching for the crucifix and the garlic, it’s a fact.

Milliband’s comment is breathtakingly stupid. Obviously reports of the death of NuLabour were (sadly) exaggerated!

4. Rhys Williams

Of course Camerons right but what about mentioning the role of western security agencies in eighties and seventies in supporting these regimes.

5. astateofdenmark

And David Milliband, whilst Foreign Secretary, would have seen all of the evidence yet says nothing, said nothing and then criticises someone for saying what he knows to be true.

Dave’s completely right, Cameron’s speaking the truth, and it’s rather worrying that Miliband is this stupid on foreign policy.

But I’m not as keen on Cameron’s speech as a lot of people are, because of where and when he gave it: in an Indian city, Bangalore, on a trip to India explicitly aimed at increasing Anglo-Indian trade and investment. If Cameron had said all this in Pakistan, it might have been accepted by at least some Pakistani politicians and journalists as the advice of a candid friend.

So the speech will be all too easy for self-pitying Pakistanis to write off as Cameron doing their great enemy a favour and hoping for one in return- and who is to say that they are entirely wrong in thinking that? This would have been a far better, braver speech if it had been given in Islamabad or Rawalpindi.

@4

It’s all of a piece with the long standing Cold War era policy of supporting anyone anti-communist (however odious), whether in Afghanistan vs the Russians, Central America against anyone even vaguely to the left, not to mention support for authoritarian religious nut jobs like the Saudi’s. So much for the moral dimension to foreign policy……

Dave’s completely right, Cameron’s speaking the truth, and it’s rather worrying that Miliband is this stupid on foreign policy.

I don’t think Miliband is being stupid – it’s more that we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Without Pakistan’s support winning in Afghanistan is nearly impossible. but they’re also part of the problem. so they needed to be prodded to do more, without actually becoming our enemies rather than allies.

This would have been a far better, braver speech if it had been given in Islamabad or Rawalpindi.

Agreed.

I think Miliband is being stupid – and I think it is part of a trend.

I think that Cameron probably cleared all of his remarks about Gaza, Turkey and Pakistan with Obama and so what he was actually doing was spelling out some elements of current US foreign policy in a ‘deniable’ way.

There is nothing new about that, it is what Blair and Miliband did all the time (remember Miliband’s amazing claim that a meeting of NATO leaders had just taken the first step to allowing Georgia into membership when everyone else in the room had agreed the exact opposite or his threat to send gunboats to Myanmar to deliver aid).

The real difference is that US foreign policy under Obama is a lot more progressive that it was under Bush.

10. Roger Mexico

Cameron was clearly using “diplomatic” language – hovering between ambiguity and incoherence. But rather than just parroting the text agreed with the US, he could have expressed support for the Pakistani government in dealing with “rogue elements” and urged India to do likewise.

We all know it’s more complicated than that: the Generals still have too much political and economic power; the ISI has been out of control for decades (yes, often with US support); and the government is weak and corrupt. But it would have made it harder for Pakistan to dismiss the criticism and recognised that some efforts are being made.

Also appearing to hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorism plotted from within its borders is a double-edged sword, given that British-bred Islamic terrorists are not unknown. And Britain doesn’t even have the Scottish Highlands filed with fanatical groups plotting armed revolution. Not unless George Osborne upsets the Lib Dems even more than already.

Meanwhile David Miliband shows he’s not as clever as he thinks he is. Given the lead he started with, his “vote for me – I’m an over-privileged git like the other two” campaign isn’t going well, is it?

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Pol-Sun-LabSummaryUPDATED-290710.pdf

I don’t think Miliband is being stupid – it’s more that we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Agreed.

But the solution when stuck is to get unstuck.

Without Pakistan’s support winning in Afghanistan is nearly impossible.

And with it?

Maybe we should take the Pakistani insurgents on directly though I’m not convinced that would make London Underground any safer.

12. Rhys Williams

Maybe we should take the Pakistani insurgents on directly though I’m not convinced that would make London Underground any safer.

So we take on muslims in iraq., afghanistan and now Pakistan.
We may be a little over stretched for that one.
Perhaps the Malaysians and Saudis after

13. astateofdenmark

”Maybe we should take the Pakistani insurgents on directly ”

Sorry, but that’s an absurd idea. We’re barely treading water in Afghanistan as it is.

14. George W. Potter

@7 “So much for the moral dimension to foreign policy……”

There is no moral dimension to foreign policy at all. There never has been and never will be.

”Maybe we should take the Pakistani insurgents on directly ”

Sorry, but that’s an absurd idea.

Who said irony doesn’t work on the net?

Shorter Call me Dave…………

“Bush is an idiot”

“In March 2003 President Bush lifted sanctions against Pakistan that were imposed following the 1999 bloodless coup that brought President Pervez Musharraf to power. A White House statement said President Bush decided to lift the sanctions because it will “facilitate the transition to democratic rule in Pakistan” and help in efforts to fight international terrorism. Pakistani cooperation was key to US military action against the Taleban government in neighboring Afghanistan and al-Qaida terrorists thought responsible for the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.”

i think uk, and usa and thier companies like isreal and india are the biggest threat to the world in fact the third world war as they are money hungry and they got the most dangerous weapons of mass distruction in their hands and think they can control the world or tame it but they are wrong.

what uk prime minister said about pakistan was to please the indians and win contracts, who doesn’t understand this, we know that indians are cowards millions of indians were ruled by few thousand british they know its only muslims that can stand in the way of aggressers and occupiers thats why the indians are leaning towards british

Ah, jan, there you are.

Your version of history, where Britain colonised India but not Pakistan is new to me. Can you provide a source?

Actually,these days it’s more a case of Britain “leaning towards” a vibrant and successful India than the other way round. Why? Because we share the same language and public institutions.

We also share them with Pakistan, if you could just lay off being angry for a second.

paki army is the biggest terrorist organization in the wordl…it took you this long for you all to figure out….sigh

21. bijon shah

stage is set for division of Pakistan ,
northern ares nwfp will got to afghanis (usa) Punjab and Singh to Indians
Baluch to Iran .and war on terror is won

Good to see someone here advocating the dismemberment of the failed state of Pakistan but … HOLD ON, CHAPS … the Sikhs, Hindus and Christians of Pakistan will be heading EN MASSE for Heathrow and howling for asylum.

23. mikeinthemorning

There is cetainly a long history of this type of thing:

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-03-06/news/mn-3321_1_arms-sales/2

As I said, not sure this is going to work out well for Cameron, though I do take your point conor.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/31/pakistan-security-cancels-uk-visit

@1 Martin Coxall: After the Afghan war logs Wikileaks, anyone who’s still pretending that Pakistan is a reliable ally is delusional.

Indeed. But they’re clearly preferable to what the Taliban would be like if they succeeded in taking over Pakistan.

I can think of lots of things the Taliban might do with nukes, none of which are good.

@8 Sunny Hundal: Without Pakistan’s support winning in Afghanistan is nearly impossible. but they’re also part of the problem. so they needed to be prodded to do more, without actually becoming our enemies rather than allies.

Indeed. But in the British and Pakistani governments refuse to publicly accept the truth, it does no-one any good. Gorbachev got it right when he said that you can’t solve your problems if you refuse to talk about them.

When I heard Call Me Dave said this my first reaction was “And?”. It’s one of the worst-kept-secrets in recent times that the ISI have supported the Taleban (or at least, certain sections of it have given moral, financial and material backing to the “insurgents”). The thing is whether he should have let the cat out of the bag in this way, and in India of all places. I remember how the change of Pakistan from rogue to friend began shortly after 9/11 and we needed their help in Afghan – the first change was that “General” Musharraf became “President” Musharraf. Call Me Dave’s statement is, I suppose, a coded warning to the Pakistani gov that he who pays the piper calls the tune…

27. Charlieman

I had a great secondary school education and JAB was my great history teacher. We did not have the national curriculum in those days, so in 1979 JAB was free to ask his class of 16 year olds what they thought about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I stuck up my hand, proposing that Afghanistan had been a puppet state for many years and that the west would be giving money and guns to religious fundamentalists who were (rightly) subject to sanctions in Iran. I was in a minority.

I deliver this narrative for several reasons:
a. I love the idea that I was smart when I was aged 16.
b. Unforeseen consequences are the nature of foreign policy. Especially armed intervention.
c. The ISI are stuck in 1979. Successive Pakistani governments have not modernised the ISI.

28. Rhys Williams

Charlie you were not the only one.
Actually the Afghan regime was democratically elected, although it was supported by the USSR.
It brought in many positive changes for women and secular education.
The west backed Zia and he made the Pakistan education system a platform for the Mullah’s.
Perhaps Cameron can mention the support of the eighties for massive muslim fundies by the west

A sad fact about this world is that truth and diplomacy only overlap, at the best of times.

The working definition of a valued diplomat is someone sent abroad to credibly lie for his (or her) country

Oh come on, let’s face it, Cameron was stoking-up business for the UK arms industry and it worked to the tune of £700m…. lucky old BAE board members and indian workforce.

Are his comments going to help anyone outside of the arms industry? I doubt it, it would take a really big and awful conflict for Cameron to buy us out of recession using the arms industry alone.

Regarding his trip to Turkey, I didn’t hear him mutter anything about Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds….. but perhaps he didn’t see that as helpful in closing a deal.

31. Rhys Williams

Good point Ben
The aims of arms industry is never far behind any comment by a western leader left or right in regards to foreign policy

The Islamisation policy under Zia al Haq, the support of the ISI for the Mujhadeen, Kashmiri Separatist and later the Taleban, has led to large numbers of armed and trained Pakistanis who are critical of a democratic and more secular government. Part of the problem is that many of the professional middle classes such as doctors, accountants, teachers, academics , lawyers, engineers and civil servants who were Hindu and/or Sikh, fled to India during partition. The Indian Army has largely kept out of politics. Consequently Pakistan is short of large numbers of professional middle class personnel who are relatively free of corruption. Tribal loyalties of Baluchistan and the North West and feudal ties of the Sindh mean that very few people believe that a competent and corrupt free Pakistan State state is possible.
Consequently, terrorism is partly a result that for many people, especially the poor and illiterate /semi-illiterate, the state does not provide any support.The nearest and loudest demagogue, especially if they provide education and food in the form of charity, provide far more tangible support for the poor than much of the government. The increasing wealth and power of India is only likely to show up the inability of Pakistans leaders, be they military, political and/or religious to create a comparable industrial base. Cameron’s comments may provide support to the more secular and democratically inclined Pakistani’s who are concerned with developing education, healthcare and the economy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zia-ul-Haq%27s_Islamization


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  2. Liberal Conspiracy

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  3. Tom Wheatcroft

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  4. Anna

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  5. anastaisia51

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  6. Vic Forte

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  7. Thomas Byrne

    RT @libcon: Cameron is right: Pakistan does sponsor terrorism http://bit.ly/cMKDOb

  8. Martin Coxall

    RT @libcon Cameron is right: Pakistan does sponsor terrorism http://bit.ly/dh4zCv

  9. superbrutal

    RT @libcon: Cameron is right: Pakistan does sponsor terrorism http://bit.ly/cMKDOb

  10. Lucien de la Peste

    If there’s one thing that has the New Labour apparatchik reaching for the crucifix and the garlic, it’s a fact. http://bit.ly/cwY2zE

  11. Miliband quote of the day « Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

    […] Dizzy Thinks and Liberal Conspiracy There are many grounds on which it is right for Labour politicians to criticise Cameron and the […]





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