House of Lords written question – answered on 12th October 2009.

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Photo of Viscount Waverley Viscount Waverley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are being taken to close the ideology gap in Afghanistan.

Photo of Lord Malloch-Brown Lord Malloch-Brown Labour

The Afghan Government increasingly have to contend with the insurgency's ability to promote its extremist ideology. In order to help counter the extremist narrative, the UK is committed to increasing the Afghan Government's ability to communicate their credibility and authority, particularly in the Pashtun Belt. The UK supports the Afghan Government in developing their communications capacity and capabilities to support growing Afghan ownership of communications, including through funding of the new Government Media and Information Centre in Kabul and support for communications infrastructure.

UK strategy in Afghanistan incorporates public diplomacy and outreach such as bilateral visits by prominent Muslim opinion-formers, in order to break down Afghan misconceptions about UK life and the myths around UK motivations for intervening in Afghanistan. In June this year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided funding for a group of Helmand MPs to visit the UK to develop their understanding of the role of the UK's Muslim Community. The delegation's engagements included meeting British Muslim scholars and opinion-formers, visiting British mosques and Muslim faith schools. Also at the invitation of the Government, a group of Afghan religious leaders are visiting the UK in July in order to see first-hand demonstrations of Islam's compatibility with democracy. Their engagements include meetings with the Friends of Islam All-Party Parliamentary Group, the Society of Afghan Residents in the UK, and a visit to the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London.

The UK works hard to explain foreign policy to domestic and international public in order to address inaccurate perceptions. We do this through media and public diplomacy work, including putting Arabic and Urdu-speaking spokespeople forward to media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, and speeches, interviews and articles by Ministers and ambassadors.

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