David Miliband

Foreign Secretary

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Tuesday 29 July, 2008

Pakistan Comes To Britain

I took the Pakistani foreign minister to Birmingham on Friday to meet community leaders and young members of the Pakistani heritage diaspora.  The pride about both countries was really striking - pride because the people we met were proud of their achievements in Britain and of their Pakistani heritage.  But there was also concern over the need to find new ways to support Pakistan as it goes through difficult weeks and months.

The expectations are big, the needs very large, and the forces undermining national consensus strong. Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, my opposite number, has a grandfather who was governor (I think) of the Punjab under the Raj, and is himself a former mayor of Multan and Finance Minister of Punjab.He wowed the elders and listened intently to the young people.His government need time, yet the threats of terrorism and economic challenge conspire to deny it.

Britain is helping with aid and trade but we left Birmingham resolved to try and do better on business and education contacts.

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What on earth is the Pakistani heritage diaspora when it is at home? Incidentally your question is simple arithmatic and not "math" which is an American term anyway.

Posted by Frank on July 29, 2008 at 06:38 PM BST #

As Pakistan is an ally and valued trading partner, can you justify the huge aid payments still being made from our nation to Pakistan?

Posted by Paul on July 29, 2008 at 07:09 PM BST #

Firstly, I think it was great that both foreign secretaries came to Birmingham as these type of events always take place in London. I especially enjoyed the genuinely open and frank dialogue that took place. Anyway,as someone who was present at this meeting I'd like to break down some of the issues raised.Based on questions asked, the audience remain very concerned with the impact on local communities from British foreign policy ie a varied approach between Zimbabwe and Palestine, the Government's top-down approach on extremism and its selective manner of only listening to those groups or individuals it wants to do business with, which only fosters alienation. I remind you of the point made about Islam Expo and how government ministers pulled out from participating at the last minute.

Posted by Zubeda on July 30, 2008 at 11:00 AM BST #

Did you manage to get a chance to drop into conversation the issues around the hugely porous border between Pakistan allegedly friendly and Afghanistan seriously unfriendly? There are obviously supply lines to the Taliban coming from Pakistan and - as Mr Obama has suggested in the past - there would be no reason for these supply routes to not be disrupted by military means.

Posted by Craig on July 30, 2008 at 02:22 PM BST #

Did you leave Birmingham resolved to do better with social integration? Perhaps you should have brought him here to East London, noting that where I live in Walthamstow, Pakistan has long come to Britain. It is precisely the threats of terrorism and the lack of mutual shared values that conspire to deny social cohesion here in my neighbourhood. You mention the Pakistanis in Birmingham were 'proud of their achievements in Britain and of their Pakistani heritage', yet where is their pride in identifying themselves as British? In my area alone, there exists a genuine ghetto-ising - many can't speak English, let alone grasp concepts of politesse when passing each other on the street with a neighbourly hello, never mind intrinsic British values of tolerance. There is an undeniable observation here that they keep themselves to themselves, and this inward cultural point of difference is what threatens integration.

Posted by fabian on July 30, 2008 at 08:26 PM BST #

Apparently the young members of the '_Pakistani heritage diaspora'-whatever that means-are proud of their Pakistani heritage.'Indeed? Proud of a 66 percent infant mortality rate-a country where 50 cant read or write 64percent if you are female yet which can afford a nuclear weapons programme? All this after 60 years of 'independence'? But of course-'the government needs time yet the threats of terrorisn and economic challenge conspire to deny it' Yes of course,indeed yes.How true. See you in another sixty years......

Posted by Lord Truth on July 31, 2008 at 07:10 PM BST #

Ignore those bullies, David, and keep strong! Trixy x

Posted by Trixy on August 01, 2008 at 10:22 AM BST #

Thanks for coming to Birmingham, but if we look at this event from the sidelines - I am sure you would agree with me, that this was simply a waste of time, money and respect by HMG. Firstly, the people who put this event together didnt invite people from the cross section of the British Pakistani community. Secondly, if this was a PREVENT/CONTEST counter radicalisation initiative by HMG or more like one of its 'POLITICALLY ACCEPTABLE COMMUNITY ORGANS' then this was not countering radicalisation it was PROMOTING EXTREMISM! Also I think HMG needs to ENGAGE productively with the Muslim community to tackle radicalisation and extremism and look at things from a wider perspective and not from a narrow politically safe prism. I know you are a gentleman who cares and is concerned about problems not just within the British Muslim community but on a wider international scale, you need GOOD ADVISORS who should be free to assist you and please oh please can we not have these silly deradicalisation initiatives in the community again, if you really want to work HMG not you personally with the Muslims then talk directly... Current HMG initiatives are a waste of money/resources/time, counter radicalisation is simply being used to make money for pro-government stooges - David, don't be bullied by your colleagues and others, stand tall and firm! Engage Directly with people. And my best to you David! Mohammed Abbasi

Posted by Mohammed Abbasi on August 01, 2008 at 02:30 PM BST #

Commenting on Lord Truth comments about being 'proud' of Pakistani heritage, I found it absurd that you can relate this back to national statistics of the Pakistani government. Heritage does not stem from the success and prosperity of a nation but rather the culture and values of the nation and its people. And with regard to the comments posted about social integration from Fabian, I am interested in know how your values differ to that of the Pakistani community? I’m sure if you lock yourself away in a room with the Pakistanis who fail to hello to you on the street, you might find that you have some common shared values.

Posted by David on August 01, 2008 at 05:43 PM BST #

I applaud the two ministers coming to Birmingham, answering questions rather than giving speeches. Yes, the audience was not very broad, even of the local Pakistani / Kashmiri community. GOWM and others need to explain why. A hundred people excluding staff and media were present. Next time a bigger room please and an open door! The key issues got a mention, others which were expected were not asked, e.g. incursions into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan by the USA. It was noticeable that the Pakistani minister was at his most animated when explaining why countering Pakistan was in Pakistan's national and public interest. Yes, Pakistan and the UK have common interests. We both need to be ambassadors at home and abroad. When will you come again?

Posted by mick pearce on August 02, 2008 at 08:44 PM BST #

It is clear the army is losing control in Pakistan. Even many liberals today would not actively support it. The urban middle class in Punjab has certainly lost faith in it; the only support it has comes from the some what puzzled poor in the rural areas who really dont know what to think. But I do believe that the opinions of the urban middle are a harbinger to what will happen to the rural poor at some future point in time......the only question is how much longer will this take and the conventional answer is decades at least, several of them. Sincerely, Imran Butt.

Posted by Imran Butt on August 21, 2008 at 05:32 PM BST #

Dear David, You refer quite graciously to Shah Mehmood Qureshi; in recent by-elections his brother I think did not win a seat as was widely expected. By all measures the PPP is now proving an unreliable party; Benazir promised that "Chaudry is the chief Justice of pakistan"; I think she would have been smart enough to adapt to that reality and take "others" along with her. But the lack of clarity in the vision of PPP, in the absence of Benazir, is now clear for all to see.The PPP is if possible checkmating itself twice over, on the same issue: the judges, the central legal authority. Sincerely, Imran Butt.

Posted by Imran Butt on August 21, 2008 at 05:53 PM BST #

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