David Cameron will not apologise for his outspoken comments on Pakistan – despite warnings they could inflame Muslim opinion in this country.
Government sources last night indicated the Prime Minister would not withdraw his suggestion that Pakistan is ‘exporting terror’ when he meets the country’s president
Asif Ali Zardari at Chequers later this week.
The comments have angered many in Pakistan, with one mob burning an effigy of Mr Cameron in Karachi at the weekend.
Yesterday, a British Labour MP warned the comments were ‘inflaming’ opinion among British Muslims.
But a government source insisted Mr Cameron’s words had not been aimed at the Pakistan government.
The source said Mr Cameron would not apologise for his outspoken remarks, adding:
‘No, he said it and he meant it.’
The row began last week during a visit by Mr Cameron to Pakistan’s bitter foe India.
He accused Pakistan of ‘looking both ways’ on terrorism and suggested it was involved in ‘promoting the export of terror’.
The remarks were widely seen as being aimed at elements in the Pakistan government and the state’s security service, the ISI.
Downing Street insisted this was not the case but that Mr Cameron wanted Pakistan to do more to crack down on international terror groups operating within its borders.
Pakistan reacted last week by cancelling a planned meeting on terrorism co-operation.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, said yesterday: ‘A lot of people of Pakistan origin are hugely inflamed by this.
'They feel their country of origin has been criticised for no reason other than point scoring. He (Mr Cameron) is just trying to curry favour with the Indians.’
Mr Mahmood said the cancellation of the security meeting is ‘a really big setback’.
Briefing reporters ahead of the president's arrival in the UK, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said Mr Zardari would present Mr Cameron with 'the facts on the ground' at their meeting on Friday.
'The President of Pakistan will explain and have a dialogue and good discussion and he will explain the facts to the new Government over here,' Mr Kaira said.
'We hope that the new leadership over here, when they get the exact picture, will agree with us.'
Pakistan was currently 'the biggest victim of terror' and lost 2,700 soldiers in military offensives against militants in the north-west frontier area bordering Afghanistan, he said.
Shadow foreign secretary David Miliband compared Mr Cameron's diplomatic style to a cuttlefish squirting out ink.
'Mr Cameron has used the last two weeks to make a verbal splash on foreign policy. Like a cuttlefish squirting out ink, his words were copious and created a mess,' said Mr Miliband.