My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for introducing this very important debate. I remind the House that peace is a puzzle of many parts, and in the Middle East one of the important parts is Pakistan. It is a country in great crisis. It also has an arsenal of nuclear weapons. The price we would pay for the failure of Pakistan would be devastating. It would destroy the prospects for peace in Afghanistan and infect the entire Middle East. That failure would almost certainly be lived out also on the streets of this country. It could put in the hands of extremists like bin Laden the most terrible weapons of destruction.
It is very easy to lay blame. Did Pakistanis know that bin Laden was hiding there? Of course some of them did, but it would be folly to kick over the entire barrel simply because some of the apples are rotten. Perhaps it is scarcely surprising to see the media sneering, but I was desperately disappointed to hear the CIA director, Leon Panetta, publicly proclaiming that Pakistan could not be trusted over bin Laden. In one broad, sweeping, trite statement, he humiliated them all. It is precisely that sort of insensitivity that could push Pakistan into the abyss.
The country needs help, not humiliation. A stable Pakistan is a precondition for a wider peace. We in Britain have a unique role to play. Our ties are abundant. We have educated their politicians, trained their officers-and one day we might even beat them at cricket. Britain needs to be the sort of good and patient friend to Pakistan that only we can be. Restoring stability will not be easy. It will not be completed in one year, or probably even in 10; but the prize is worth every effort, because if we fail, the alternative is not just a subcontinent but an entire Middle East in nuclear chaos.