LONDON, April 28: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has lauded the political maturity of the people of Pakistan and said that they have voted for democracy and not Talibanisation, adding that he was impressed by the coalition government’s commitment on war against terrorism.

Addressing a press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Monday after his return from his recent trips to Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Mr Miliband said that during his stay in Pakistan and his inter-action with officials, he never came across any impression that the newly formed coalition government was crumbling.

Rather, he said, he found a strong determination of the government to tackle various issues facing them, including terrorism, through a multi-pronged strategy based on political, economic and security reforms.

Responding to a question, Mr Miliband said there was a need to marginalise the terrorists and the Pakistan government had announced its intention to deal with the issue in accordance with its national interests.

He said he hoped that the decision to open negotiations with the local Taliban would yield results which would also lead to calming effects across the border.

The foreign secretary said reconciliation with the Taliban had to be looked in two different ways and whether this move would provide a platform for a lasting peace or lead to increased acts of violence. He added that he was clear in his mind that whatever steps Pakistan had taken was for the good of the country.

He said he would not necessarily subscribe to the White House view on the peace deal in the North-West Frontier Province and would wait for the ultimate result. He noted that jirga meetings had started and both sides had met to thrash out details that would be beneficial to all without compromising efforts to combat terrorism and militancy.

Mr Miliband spoke of his meeting in Peshawar with children who were victims of terrorism and said both the United Kingdom and Pakistan have shared interests in fighting war against terrorism. He said Britain was fully supportive of consolidating democratic institutions in Pakistan, rather than strengthening individuals.

He underscored the importance of regional stability and said both the UK and Pakistan were working together to realise that goal. “Terrorism is a problem in Pakistan and its government was making determined efforts to root out this menace through a series of measures based on economic and social development.”

He also pointed out that Pakistani diaspora in the UK had an important role in the development of their country of origin.

Mr Miliband said that during his talks with PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, he found them determined to carry the country forward through their mutual policies.

He was hopeful that the issues relating to the judiciary would be settled within the given deadline of 30 days.—APP

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