PRIME MINISTER – AFGHANISTAN – 13 June 2009
[The Prime Minister: I thank my right hon. Friend [Dr. John Reid] for his work as Defence Secretary and in the Government. He was clear about our responsibilities in Afghanistan. What has changed in the past few years is that al-Qaeda's moving to Pakistan and the build-up of the Pakistan Taliban as a threat to democracy there mean that we must deal with the twin problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to do it by complementing our military action with work to help both Governments to build up their own strength and by giving what we can in development support so that everyone in those two countries can have a stake in the future.]
Dr Julian Lewis: Following on directly from that, does the Prime Minister share the concern of Pakistan's Interior Minister about the critical importance of stopping insurgents criss-crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border? Will he explain why, according to that Minister, whereas Pakistan has managed to set up 1,000 checkpoints on its side of the border, NATO has managed to set up only 100, with only 60 of them working?
[The Prime Minister: I shall certainly look at the statement that the hon. Gentleman cites from Pakistan. We have talked about how we can co-ordinate activity across the borders, how joint discussions can take place between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and how we can make the border more secure. The hon. Gentleman is right that, if the Afghan Taliban are reinforced regularly by people coming from Pakistan, that makes the job of our British troops far more difficult. If people can slip back across the border when they are chased to it or to the border areas, that is another threat to the safety of our troops. It is therefore important to our strategy to bring the operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan together.]