LONDON, Sept 16: The joint statement issued here on Tuesday by the Pakistan High Commission after the conclusion of nearly 150 minutes of talks between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that it was for the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to lead the efforts to combat extremism, with the support of the international community.
The prime minister and the president also agreed that a stable and strong democracy in Pakistan would play an important role in promoting peace in the region.
The two leaders also welcomed the ongoing collaboration between the UK and Pakistani governments to tackle violent extremism and radicalisation. They agreed to enhance this cooperation in support of a comprehensive approach by the government of Pakistan.
Talking to the waiting media personnel after his talks with the British prime minister, Mr Zardari expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of his talks with Mr Brown. He expressed the hope that there would be no more US cross-border incursions.
Mr Zardari said there was understanding among the British leadership that Pakistan should be helped with regard to unprovoked US missile firing in the tribal regions.
Asked whether he was able to persuade Mr Brown to put pressure on the American government to stop cross-border incursions into Pakistan, Mr Zardari said the British prime minister was well aware of the situation and “understands Pakistan’s position”.
He said such action did not help democracy and Mr Brown agreed to this point of view. The UK always supported democracy and he was confident that Britain would continue to support democracy and democratic institutions, Mr Zardari added.
“Pakistan has always relied on UK for support of democracy,” he said, adding that Britain had a better understanding of the subcontinent than any other country and they had taken Pakistan’s point of view and would put it across the world.
Responding to a question about further cross-border raids, President Zardari replied: “I don’t think there will be any”.
According to the joint statement, the prime minister congratulated President Zardari on his election and welcomed this as a significant step in Pakistan’s democratic transition.
The two discussed the bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues and agreed to strengthen cooperation in various fields, including trade, defence, health and education. They underlined the value they placed on the contribution being made by the one million British citizens of Pakistani origin in strengthening friendship between the two countries.
The prime minister and the president discussed the challenges faced by Pakistan. The prime minister commended President Zardari on his speech at his inauguration and his seven-point Roadmap for a Better Future for Pakistan. The prime minister emphasised the UK’s support for the establishment of democracy in Pakistan, including the strengthening of democratic institutions in the country.
Prime Minister Brown took this opportunity to remember the death of Benazir Bhutto. His sympathies remained with the Bhutto family and the people of Pakistan, he said.
The prime minister and the president agreed that the UK and Pakistan had a shared agenda in tackling violent extremism in both countries. They noted that there was a particularly acute problem with extremism emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. This had an impact on Pakistan as much as anywhere else, but was also impacting on UK forces in Afghanistan.
The two noted that it was the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan who suffered most directly from such extremism. In this context, the prime minister welcomed the early meeting between Presidents Zardari and Karzai and the prospect of improved practical cooperation between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan on their mutual vulnerability to violent extremism. The prime minister and the president agreed that a stable and strong democracy in Pakistan would play an important role in promoting peace in the region.