West must not start row with Pakistan: British PM

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The West must not spark a row with Pakistan although Islamabad has plenty of questions to answer over Osama bin Laden, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday.

Pakistan's government has been a staunch ally in combating Islamic extremism, and triggering a rupture in relations would risk "massive instability", he said.

Bin Laden was killed in a US special forces raid in Pakistan, where the Al-Qaeda terror network chief had been living in comfort near a military compound in a garrison town two hours' drive from Islamabad.

"There will be lots of questions about what sort of support system bin Laden had in Pakistan, and we need those questions answered," Cameron told BBC radio on Tuesday.

"Pakistan's political leadership ... are staunch in the fight against extremism and terror, and they've done huge amounts in their own country to try and combat it.

"Pakistan has suffered more at the hands of terrorism than virtually any other country on Earth.

"It's in our interests to back those democratic forces within Pakistan, and the stronger that democracy can be the more the whole country will work together to deal with terrorism."

Last July, Cameron triggered a wobble in relations with Islamabad by telling an Indian audience that Pakistan should not be allowed to "look both ways" on terrorism, before softening his rhetoric.

Cameron said he spoke to Pakistan's president and prime minister on Monday and said they "need our support and help to make sure the whole country is pulling in the same direction".

Cameron said his role was to make the "big choice" for Britain.

"We could, of course, go down the route of having some massive argument, a massive row with Pakistan.

"It is my very clear view that it is in our interests to work with the government and people of Pakistan to combat terrorism, to combat extremism, to help development in that country.

"Because if we turn away from it and give up on them ... you're left with a nuclear power in danger of massive extremism and massive instability which would completely not be in our interests."

Cameron chaired a meeting of Britain's COBRA emergency response committee late Monday and was to brief parliament on Tuesday about the situation.

© 2011 AFP

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