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Friday, 28 August 2009

President Zardari is in Meeting with PM Gordon Brown

The meeting is happening now, perhaps we will hear later on about what was discussed. I was told by the Pakistani High Commission that Zardari is not giving any press conferences this visit.

Update 13.00 GMT 28.8.2009; a joint statement has been issued.
Downing Street Spokesman:

"At the meeting both the Prime Minister and President Zardari reinforced that Britain and Pakistan are close friends and partners. Between our two countries there is a strong bond, both in terms of our people and cooperation between our governments.

"The Prime Minister and President Zardari agreed that our two countries continued to face the shared threat of extremism and terrorism. As we have said before our highest priority in Pakistan is to work with the Pakistani government to tackle the threat of violent extremism in its border areas with Afghanistan – a threat which affects both Pakistan’s security and that of the UK. The Pakistan government and the Pakistan army are already taking intensified action against the Taliban and the Prime Minister made clear his support.

"The Prime Minister and the President agreed the need to tackle the underlying causes of extremism. The Prime Minister reiterated our support for Pakistani efforts and repeated the UK’s commitment, £665m over 4 years. Our development programme in Pakistan is our second largest in the world; we aim to spend around half of this in the critical border areas.

"There requires a comprehensive approach including better governance, economic development such as a single financing mechanism, and when necessary appropriate military pressure.

"There was discussion and support expressed for our education programme. A programme announced back in April that focuses on the border area of Pakistan. In particular we announced that we will provide textbooks in the border areas for school children and that we would support 300,000 girls from poor families attending secondary school. More does need to be done and we have asked our international partners to step up and do more and follow up on the Tokyo Donors’ Conference which delivered $5 billion of pledges over the next two years."

While the statements sound good, there is concern about accountability and about how the money is being spent. Who is measuring the results of the monetary donations, when GB and US interests rest mainly in counter-insurgency? ie Pakistan fighting back the Taliban.

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