‘Zardari offers to set up spy cell in Pakistan High Commisison’

September 16th, 2008 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Sep 16 (IANS) President Asif Ali Zardari met British premier Gordon Brown Tuesday amid reports he is offering to set up a spy cell at the Pakistani high commission in London to help track Pakistani-origin Britons travelling to Pakistan. The proposal is among several that Zardari was expected to discuss with Brown, the Guardian newspaper reported in an article that also reveals the proactive role by Britain in getting Zardari elected as president.

It said Zardari’s idea is to establish a special intelligence cell at the Pakistan high commission which will act as a “storehouse for information about Islamists and terror threats, and tracking British Pakistanis as they make their way from the UK to Pakistan”.

The offer comes in the backdrop of assertions by the British government that the overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in Britain can be traced back to Pakistan.

After Brown, Zardari is to meet Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Britain’s Permanent Representative to UN’s Disarmament Conference Alan Duncan, Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and British Development Minister Shahid Malik.

Although on a private visit, Zardari’s mission is thought to be crucial because of recent American bombings against Islamic militant hideouts on Pakistani territory.

While Zardari has opposed the strikes saying they will intensify anti-Western sentiment in Pakistan, recent reports said Brown was expected to ask the Pakistani leader to accept this “new security strategy”.

The Guardian said Zardari, in his meeting with Brown, will present proposals taken from a series of documents drafted by his wife Benazir Bhutto shortly before her assassination last year.

The documents, one of which has been shown to Miliband, propose the formation of a regional intergovernmental counter-terrorist body comprising Afganistan, China, India, Iran, and Russia, among others - with the US and Britain “present in the background”.

The document says: “A consensus is necessary so the war on terror is not considered an American war but is owned by all countries,” said the article written by journalists Adrian Levi and Cathy Scott-Clark, authors of the book “Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy”.

It also proposes the establishment of an international consortium led by Britain to reconstruct Pakistan’s tribal areas, targeting extremist infrastructure and revitalizing everything from local transport to water supplies.

The paper said Brown will be “asked to put his faith in Zardari” in spite of a history of corruption allegations against him in Pakistan.

But it said “there are signs that Brown is ready to take Zardari seriously”, adding the British foreign office had played a “vigorous and little known role in getting Zardari elected president”.

“In a notoriously difficult foreign policy arena, injected with precious few new ideas, there are signs that Brown is ready to take Zardari seriously. The Foreign Office has already played a vigorous and little known role in getting Zardari elected president: Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the FCO political director, used his offices to elegantly strong-arm Pakistani political factions exiled to the UK into voting for the PPP’s presidential candidate.

“In a daring move, the MQM party, which has offices in north London - and was set against the PPP - was talked into becoming temporary champion of a PPP machine it had previously only bombed and shot at,” the newspaper reported.

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