Zardari promises to work with Karzai to tackle extremism (Lead)

September 16th, 2008 - 11:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Sep 16 (IANS) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday pledged to work closely with Afghanistan in combating violent Islamic extremists in the volatile border region between the two countries.The assurance came in a joint statement after Zardari met with British premier Gordon Brown and his Foreign Secretary David Miliband at 10 Downing Street.

It followed mounting tension between Pakistan and the US over reported unilateral American incursions into Pakistani territory apparently in hot pursuit of Al Qaeda militants.

Zardari and members of his military had expressed Pakistan’s anger over the US actions in the leadup to Tuesday’s meeting.

The joint statement said violent extremism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region “had an impact on Pakistan as much as anywhere else, but was also impacting on UK forces in Afghanistan.”

It was for the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan “to lead the efforts to combat this extremism, with the support of the international community,” the statement said.

Brown welcomed a recent meeting between presidents Zardari and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan “and the prospect of improved practical co-operation between the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan on their mutual vulnerability to violent extremism.”

Also Tuesday, a British newspaper reported that Zardari was 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.

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, tracking British Pakistanis as they make their way from the UK to Pakistan.”

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

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