By Ray Fleming

“BRITAIN recognises the sacrifices made by Pakistan's military, civil law enforcement agencies and people in fighting violent extremism and militancy and appreciates the efforts of the democratic government.” That sentence, part of a long joint statement made by David Cameron and the Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari after their talks at Chequers on Friday, shows how close Britain came in these talks to apologising for the negative comments about Pakistan made by Mr Cameron in India only a week earlier. It is also clear from the specific measures on future co-operation agreed between the two sides that President Zardari succeeded in convincing Mr Cameron of the importance of his country in helping to bring the Afghanistan situation to a relatively satisfactory solution and in dealing with the wider issue of international terrorism. Unless he is toppled by other matters -- his absence during the current unprecedented flood disaster for instance -- Mr Zardari has three years left as president and it is important that this time is spent productively between Britain and Pakistan. If Mr Cameron has learnt over the past few days that the world is a more complex place than he would like it to be then his gaffe in India and Pakistan's angry response to it will have served a useful purpose. Since Pakistan became independent in 1947 it has been under military rule more often than democratic government. Mr Zardari has taken a number of measures to strengthen the democratic core in the country and he deserves help and support in this area as much as in the military's role in relation to Afghanistan.


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