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Published: Monday, 12/15/2008

British leader offers to help fight terrorism

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday pledged more technical support and funding to help Pakistan and India battle terrorism in the wake of the attacks that killed more than 160 people last month in Mumbai, India.

Mr. Brown made the offers during whirlwind visits to both nations' capitals and tried to calm tensions after the assaults, which India has blamed on a Pakistani-based Islamist group.

Mr. Brown urged the nuclear-armed rivals to cooperate to peacefully resolve the crisis, which U.S. officials fear could divert Pakistan's attention away from battling al-Qaeda and Taliban militants along its border with Afghanistan.

In Pakistan, Mr. Brown met with President Asif Ali Zardari and promised the Muslim nation new bomb-scanning technology, forensic assistance, help improving airport security, and other support.

He also announced a $9 million program to help fight the causes of extremism and strengthen democracy, including trying to reach out to and educate Pakistani youth to avoid radicalization.

"We will continue to expand our counterterrorism assistance program with Pakistan, and it will be, more than ever, the most comprehensive anti-terrorism program Britain has signed with any country," Mr. Brown said.

The British prime minister also said he discussed similar assistance with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier yesterday, including help against radicalization, airport security improvements, and information sharing to fight terrorism.

He said he was "reassured that the leaders of both countries want to choose the path of peace and reconciliation."

For Britain, which has a large South Asian population and colonial-era links to the region, extremist activity here is of vital concern. Three-quarters of the most serious terror plots investigated by British authorities have links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan, Mr. Brown said.

"All of us suffer when terrorists are active and are able to impose their will," Mr. Brown said.

He said he asked Mr. Singh if he would allow British authorities to question the only known surviving gunman in the Mumbai massacre, and asked Mr. Zardari for similar cooperation with arrested suspects. Neither leader publicly responded.

India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic group for the attacks, an assertion Mr. Brown echoed.

"We also know that the group responsible [for the Mumbai attacks] is LET, and they have a great deal to answer for," Mr. Brown said.

According to India, the 10 gunmen - nine of whom were killed - were from Pakistan, as were the handlers, masterminds, weapons, training camps, and financing.

Pakistan has arrested some suspected plotters and shut offices of a charity allegedly linked to Lashkar. It is pressing India to provide evidence to aid in prosecutions.



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