CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

FOREIGN AFFAIRS – STRATEGIC BASE IN AFGHANISTAN – 30 October 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: Did the Minister see the important article in The Sunday Times this weekend, which made it clear that after 2014 the Taliban will be targeting all the progressive steps that have been taken, and will he therefore seek to open the Government's mind a little more to the prospect of trying to preserve those gains by supporting the concept of a strategic base in the area after 2014 for international security assistance forces?

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Alistair Burt): How the use of forces will be made after 2014 is still to be considered. My hon. Friend has made this plea before. I would say in response to the Taliban that one of the most significant events in recent weeks has been the public response to the Taliban in Pakistan, in support of the young girl Malala and her right to education. Bearing in mind the links between the Taliban in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, that assertion by the people of Pakistan of the importance of women's rights and women's education may be the best response we have yet seen to the demands of the Taliban, and a consideration that they may not be accepted by the people themselves, which would be the best guarantor of women's rights in the future.]