Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari heads to Europe this week where he will meet the British prime minister, despite anger at David Cameron’s warning that Pakistan must not ‘promote the export of terror’.
Islamabad’s top intelligence official cancelled a trip to the UK in protest.
Pakistan also rejects US concerns that its intelligence service the ISI helped the Taliban, revealed in leaked military reports.
“Pakistan’s intelligence agency is strictly following the policy of the government of Pakistan, it is not beyond that,” said former ISI head Hamid Gul. “Our policy is very clear. We want a peaceful Afghanistan, and we believe that without peace in Afghanistan there cannot be peace in Pakistan.”
Cameron sticks by his comments. His spokeswoman said his warning on terror referred to Pakistan the country not its government. Britain says relations remain strong; the opposition’s warned otherwise.
“Clearly this week he’s been out to make headlines in foreign affairs but actually we need strong relationships and strong partnerships,” said David Miliband, former foreign secretary in the last Labour government. “He said he would tell is like it is, but he only told part of the story in respect of Pakistan and that’s why they are so enraged.”
There is particular anger in Pakistan because Cameron made his remarks in India, its bitter rival.
Islamabad says its forces have suffered thousands of casualties fighting the Taliban since the start of the US-led war in Afghanistan.
But on a recent visit US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she believed that Al Qaeda leaders were hiding in Pakistan and some in the government knew where they were.