Mr Cameron’s remarks

Published: July 31, 2010

British Prime Minister David Cameron made a classic politician’s gaffe: he spoke his mind instead of taking directions from his handlers. While in India of all places, Cameron said Pakistan needs to understand “that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror”. This barbed comment was clearly spurred by the recent release of the Afghan war logs by Wikileaks, which indicated a working relationship between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Afghan Taliban. Although Cameron ‘clarified’ his remarks by saying he was making a general comment and not an accusation, the damage to Pakistan-Britain relations has already been done.

Pakistan’s reaction has been equally over-the-top. Everyone from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to the high commissioner to Britain has lashed out at the British prime minister. President Asif Zardari is to visit the UK next month and will be a guest of Mr Cameron’s at his countryside residence Chequers. But the trip may be postponed as a sign of protest against the remarks. Islamabad is offended given how many lives — civilians as well as military — have been lost to suicide attacks inside the country. Questioning Pakistan’s loyalties is a favoured pastime of foreign leaders. Successive US administrations have repeated the “do more” mantra and there is not a single government in the western world that entirely trusts us. But looked at from the other side, British taxpayers’ money funds aid to Pakistan and as prime minister, Mr Cameron would, he would at least think, be failing in his job if this was used for anything other than its intended use of socio-economic development.

It is clear that behind the smooth talker who wooed the British public with his rhetoric and charm lies a steelier man unafraid to speak his mind. In just two days, he was able to offend two of Britain’s erstwhile allies. In Turkey, he likened the Gaza Strip, blockaded by the Israelis, to a “prison camp”. One member of Cameron’s entourage even remarked that the prime minister seemed to have adopted a policy of “insulting the neighbour of every country we visit.” Both of Cameron’s statements contain kernels of truth but also show that he lacks the skills required for international diplomacy.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Jul 31, 2010 - 11:27AM

    truth is always bitter.It is time for some introspection.Recommend

  • Sharif Lone
    Jul 31, 2010 - 1:13PM

    It is an interesting piece. The problem is not about the reasons for Cameron to blast Pakistan in such a blunt matter, but how the whole world press has agreed with his opinion on the double game ISI is playing. In other words it is an image problem for Pakistan, which has been damaged further. All very well. But the question of all questions is: What to do about it? And who can bring the ISI in the cage, so that it obeys the policies of the civilian leaders? In my view civilian leaders want friendship with India and do not have that much interest in bloodshed in Afghanistan. The fact is also that if any civilian leader tried to put ISI under civilian umbrella, the swords will be out to get him. But there is no alternative. If, however, ISI is clean, it should prove to the world that all this is nothing more than intentional mischief to divert the attention from the failure of NATO mission in Afghanistan. After all scapegoats are always sought not to admit defeat.
    Pakistan needs to sort out this mess and do it in a transparent way to convince the world and many Pakistanis that this double game of betrayal has ended. Pakistan needs friends and it appears unless we tackle this matter seriously, the explanations will become thinner and less convincing.Recommend

  • Ashfaq
    Aug 1, 2010 - 1:24AM

    Mr Cameron is not more than a young loudmouthed seller who just impend his customer, make him Jubilant by doing such funny things, who’s first priority is just to prove himself a successful seller.
    The English salesman has just done this. he direly wants to sell his Hawks to India, so his behavior and attitude wasn’t surprising for most of Pakistanis. he used that old and rootless allegations but he’s young, half-grown and euphoric seller.
    I don’t know the West is so reluctant to assent their failure in war against terror. they should admit the reality of stop blaming Pakistan.Recommend

  • Manoj
    Aug 1, 2010 - 12:06PM

    Why do not Pakistani Citizen discuss the merit of the statement of British PM, instead of discussing where he said and why he said.
    Fact remain that ISI and Pak Military has promoted all kind of terror outfits to use them as leverage against the political leader in Pakistan and as low cost instrument to bleed the neighbouring nations. sooner or letter such policy get boomrang on it’s master because once you brainwash one person to commit crime and reward him with money and power, it becomes example for other and many independent centre starts working on such line.
    Pakistan is victim has such home grown terrorism but still it protects the LET, Taliban(Haqqani) etc. such policy is polluting the civil characther of the nation and Pak army will do a favour to it’s country by refraing from such act.Recommend

  • concerned citizen
    Aug 3, 2010 - 8:54AM

    100 percent agree with sharif lone and manoj, the game pakistan military has been playing has brought us to this stage. any reasonable person understands that the dead end they have brought us to. the tragedy is they have not come to senses yet. military has always been too adventurous , intellectually mediocre and trying to be everything at all the times. now it has become the biggest mafia of the world and the only mafia who has atomic bomb . pakistani people are helpless to face this mafia but the world knows it now. the problem is poor people are the one paying the price. pakistan military will end up making pakistan another iraq or afghanistan.Recommend

  • Nabeel Sandhu
    Aug 3, 2010 - 1:31PM

    In his recent statement, Mr Cameron has proved himself to be a seller who can go to any extent in order to make his customers happy to buy his things..his statement clearly depicts that he had the single agenda and that was to sell his things..Recommend

  • Nabeel Sandhu
    Aug 3, 2010 - 1:39PM

    If yu talk about the game played by ISI, then why don’t yu talk about the game played by Britain and USA in Iraq and Afghanistan. they have themselves admitted that they were wrong in attacking Iraq..Pakistan has not invited them to Afghanistan, they have come themselves and because of their attack, our peace has been disturbed badly..our people and soldiers have been laying their lives for the peace of world and still we are being blamed! Recommend

  • Anoop
    Aug 4, 2010 - 12:24AM

    Truth Hurts.

    I see a lot of people saying Cameron should not said what he said. But, I dont hear anybody pointing out which part of his speech is incorrect or false propoganda? Pakistan has slept with Terrorist in the past, everyone knows this. It is doing so now, this too everyone knows(recently WikiLeaks claimed thus).Recommend

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