Pakistani intelligence agency scraps Britain visit: report

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Pakistan's intelligence agency has scrapped a planned visit to Britain in protest at Prime Minister David Cameron's comments on the export of terror, The Times newspaper reported Saturday.

The daily also said Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was considering pulling out of next week's three-day trip to Britain over Cameron's remarks.

"The visit has been cancelled in reaction to the comments made by the British prime minister against Pakistan," a spokesman for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) told The Times.

"Such irresponsible statements could affect our co-operation with Britain."

Cameron's comments, during his visit to Pakistan's rival neighbour India this week, sparked fury in Islamabad, considered a crucial strategic ally in the West's "war on terror".

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) 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 Wednesday.

A senior Pakistani official told The Times: "It is a clear swipe at Pakistani security agencies, which have lost thousands of soldiers and officers in fighting terrorism," adding that the decision to cancel the ISI trip was taken by the "top military leadership".

Pakistan has been under intense scrutiny this week after leaked secret US military documents detailed alleged links between the ISI and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Times said senior ISI officers had been due to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation with British security services in London.

The cancellation will raise "grave concerns" that Cameron may have jeopardised crucial military and intelligence co-operation with Pakistan in his bid to boost commercial ties with India, it added.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said up to three-quarters of the terror plots under investigation in Britain were linked to Pakistan.

Neither the PM's Downing Street office nor the Foreign Office would comment on the reported move from the ISI.

But the Foreign Office said Zardari's visit was still expected to go ahead as planned.

"Our understanding is that the visit is on," a spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for the prime minister said he was still expecting Zardari.

"This is about continuing our good relationship with Pakistan," she told The Times.

The newspaper said Zardari had been due to stay with Cameron at Chequers, the prime minister's country retreat.

© 2010 AFP

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