New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Prime Minister accept that al-Qaeda, as an international terrorist organisation, if it is suppressed in Afghanistan and Pakistan will begin to operate from any one or more of half a dozen other potential harbouring states? Given that it is out of the question that we could ever try to tackle that problem in the extremely costly way that we have tackled Afghanistan, will he undertake to view with an open mind the sovereign base bridgehead solution, which I hope to have an opportunity to discuss with him presently?

[The Prime Minister: I thank my hon. Friend for his question, and I know that he has considerable expertise in this area. He is right to say that there are other parts of the world where al-Qaeda is, regrettably, quite strongly established, including Yemen and Somalia, but it seems to me that that does not negate the need to do what is possible to deliver a basic level of security in Afghanistan, so that at least that country cannot once again become home to al-Qaeda. Doing that at the same time as working with the Pakistan Government can actually help to stabilise a region from which huge amounts of terrorism have come. In terms of the sovereign base idea, I am happy to look at it, and to discuss my hon. Friend's ideas with him, but I think that a military surge that is part of a counter-insurgency must be given time to work.]