Osama bin Laden — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:12 pm on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 4:12 pm, 3rd May 2011

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her intelligent and thoughtful observations and questions. She is right that Pakistan is a fragile state. It also needs a great deal of support. With that support, there is no reason why in the long term Pakistan should not become a more stable and prosperous country in what has been a difficult part of the world for some years. The noble Baroness is also right that we firmly reject any siren calls about cutting our aid to Pakistan. If anything, this makes our aid programme even more important and significant. It is aimed largely at education and we believe that one way at least to improve governance and quality for people in Pakistan is to raise the standards and quality of education. Many hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on that.

There is another reason: links between Pakistan and the United Kingdom are extremely strong. There are family groups extending between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Thirdly, there is the whole problem of what we have seen in the past as radicalisation and the growth of home-grown terrorism in the United Kingdom. All these reasons lead us to believe that aid to Pakistan is extremely justified. I also agree with the point about India. The answer to that question is, yes, we are actively involved in trying to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Anybody who knows anything about world affairs over the past 50 years will recognise just how difficult that is but there are some causes for optimism, which I hope will grow.