Strategic Defence Review

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 1:39 pm on 25th March 1998.

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Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development 1:39 pm, 25th March 1998

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about Pakistan. He has tabled written questions about that country and the Government's strategy in that regard. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear-capable, have high defence spending and high levels of poverty. They are in unresolved serious conflict over Kashmir, and the situation is a danger to the people of India and Pakistan, and indeed the people of the world. We must see how we can engage most positively in order to promote development, encourage a reduction in defence spending and remove the causes of conflict.

I am certain that it would not be right simply to disengage before we have tried everything else. When a country spends too much on defence and has high levels of poverty there is much suffering and many causes of instability. However, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we cannot keep supporting the Government of Pakistan if they continue to spend disproportionately on defence.