Pakistan slaps down Cameron in terror row

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Pakistan on Thursday slapped down remarks by British Prime Minister David Cameron that it is guilty of exporting terrorism, saying close ally London knows the menace has no borders.

"Terrorists have no religion, no humanity, no specific ethnicity or geography. Terrorists' networks, as the UK knows full well, mutate and operate in different regions and cities," the foreign ministry said.

When asked about regional security issues during a visit to India -- Pakistan's arch rival -- Cameron responded with a warning against Pakistan becoming a haven for militant groups.

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world," he said.

The comments were gleefully splashed on the front page of every major newspaper in India, which has long accused Pakistan of harbouring and abetting extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba -- blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Britain has said that 75 percent of extremist plots affecting the country -- home to an estimated one million people of Pakistani descent -- have links to Pakistan.

But Pakistan hit back, saying it was as much a victim of terrorism as Afghanistan, India or any other country. Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked bombers have killed more than 3,570 people in a three-year campaign of attacks.

Islamabad is hoping to get a stalled four-year peace process with New Delhi back on track and said it would like its allies to press its case.

"We hope that our friends will be able to persuade India to view this issue objectively and the value of 'cooperation' in counter terrorism," Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said.

"Terrorism is a global issue as well as regional and local. Pakistan and the United Kingdom have a robust and comprehensive partnership, including on counter-terrorism."

The leak of secret US military files this week has detailed alleged links between Pakistan's intelligence services and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, which have long been a source of concern in the West.

Pakistan led major campaigns against homegrown Taliban in South Waziristan and the Swat valley last year, earning plaudits from the West.

"Pakistan has done much more than any other country in combating terrorism. Our people and security forces have rendered innumerable sacrifices," the foreign ministry said.

© 2010 AFP

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