compiled by Cem Ertür
15 December 2008
Updated: added another story/link
excerpt from ‘Pakistan ‘linked to 75% of all UK terror plots‘, warns Gordon Brown’
Sam Coates, Chief Political Correspondent, and Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent, in Islamabad , Times, 14 December 2008
Gordon Brown demanded “action, not words” from Pakistan today, blaming Pakistani militants for last month’s attack on Mumbai and revealing that three quarters of the gravest terror plots under investigation in the UK had links to Pakistan.
Winding up a two-day tour of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, the Prime Minister urged Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s President, to “break the chain of terror” linking Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attempted terrorist attacks in Britain.
British military officials believe there are a “handful” of British militants fighting alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan, often entering the country through northern Pakistan, where al Qaeda and Taleban leaders are thought to be sheltering.
Officials also believe that there are currently around 30 major terrorist plots in the United Kingdom with 2,000 suspects being watched by police and the intelligence services.
“Three quarters of the most serious plots investigated by the British authorities have links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan,” said Mr Brown in a press conference alongside Mr Zardari in the presidential palace in Islamabad.
“The time has come for action, not words,” he said, just a few hours after meeting Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, in Delhi.
He also formally declared for the first time that Britain backs India’s assertion that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group with link’s to Pakistani intelligence, carried out the Mumbai attack.
His remarks were clearly designed to heap pressure on Pakistan’s civilian government to do more to crack down on militant groups in the wake of the Mumbai strike, which killed at least 170 people, including three British citizens.
The whirlwind trip was part of an international diplomatic effort, led by the United States, to prevent the Mumbai attacks from sparking a fourth war between India and Pakistan, which both have nuclear weapons.
We are fighting the same terrorist disease
The President of Afghanistan thanks the British soldiers who are dying for his country
by Hamid Karzai, Times, 15 December 2008
In Afghanistan, and across the Muslim world, we have just celebrated the great Festival of Sacrifice – the Eid al-Adha. We came together with our families to mark an event known also to Jews and Christians: the willingness of Abraham (or Ibrahim, as we call him) to sacrifice his son in obedience to God.
But God intervened, and provided a lamb instead for the sacrifice. Which is why hundreds of millions of Muslims will have feasted this week on lamb – or whatever they can afford – to mark Abraham’s acceptance of the will of God. And among them, in and around the holy city of Mecca, will have been millions – including tens of thousands of Afghans and Britons – who have completed the rigours of the great haj pilgrimage.
On Saturday I welcomed Gordon Brown to Kabul, for the third time since he became Prime Minister. A couple of weeks earlier I saw, here in Kabul, your Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. And a month ago I was in London for talks with British ministers, and as a proud guest at my dear friend Prince Charles’s 60th birthday celebrations. Before that, I had received in Kabul, on the day of her burial here, in a land she loved, the family of Gayle Williams, the dedicated British charity worker tragically murdered here by terrorists.
In all those meetings, I made clear two things. First, and above all, my profound gratitude, and that of my people, for the sacrifice that thousands of British soldiers are making every day, in Helmand and across Afghanistan. Separated from their loved ones, alongside the Afghan Army and police, and allies from 40 other nations, they are fighting, and sometimes dying, for the sake of my long-suffering country. No words can express how truly grateful we Afghans are for that.
My second point was more subtle: that, for all the tensions of our present travails, the ties that bind our two countries are stronger and deeper than anything that separates us. As I have so often told my British friends, I, like so many Afghans, educated in Afghanistan, or abroad, grew up on British culture. Your knowledge of my country, and of this continent, of its history and geography, both physical and human, is more profound, and more sensitive, than that of any other nation.
Which is why I ask for your continuing understanding and support as my country struggles to treat a disease that has infected not just our Afghan lands but also, as we have seen from the attacks in Mumbai and on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, much of the region too: violence fed by uncompromising religious extremism. An extremism which profanes the religion that I share with two million British Muslims. We all need to remember always that the main reason why your brave troops are fighting here, alongside ours, is because that violence also threatens you in the West.
In Afghanistan we have endured 30 years of war. Some two million of my compatriots have been killed. Millions more have been maimed. Seven millions fled this land. But since 2001 five million refugees have returned. Schools have reopened.
After the long tyranny of the Taleban, our girls have been able to return to education, and, if they so choose, to work. For the first time, more than eight out of ten of my people have basic healthcare. And we have a vibrant democracy, and a vigorous free press.
All of that is thanks to your efforts, and those of our American and other partners, who have done so much to help us over the seven years since we gathered in Bonn after the fall of the Taleban. And all of it would be put in jeopardy without your continuing support. Not only that, but the disease of violent religious extremism that we are together trying to treat would spread and worsen.
As the struggle goes forward, you will see us assuming more and more of the burden. Already our army, trained and equipped by its American and British friends, is leading more than half the military operations against the terrorists. With my new Interior Minister, we are working hard with you to improve our police. Thanks to your generosity, and our imagination, we are together developing innovative ways of quelling the violence. You will see us taking more of a lead too in fighting the poverty and the propaganda on which the unrest feeds.
So, as you gather with your families this Christmas, and remember your countrymen’s continuing sacrifice in my faraway land, I send you from the bottom of my heart the thanks of all Afghans everywhere. And, as you enjoy your Christmas dinner, I ask you to remember too the poor people of my country. While they give thanks for your sacrifice, so they sustain their own sacrifices in the fight against deprivation and ignorance, and against the cruel violence that feeds on both.
In the interval between the festival of sacrifice and the festival of Christ’s birth let us renew our pledge to our common struggle.
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