Pakistan ‘key’ in Afghanistan war says Redbridge MP

PAKISTAN is “the key” to helping bring law and order to Afghanistan, according to an Ilford MP who has just visited both countries.

Mike Gapes met with the presidents of both Afghanistan and Pakistan last week as he gathered information ahead of helping to pen a report into British government policy on the two countries.

The Labour MP for Ilford South made the visit in his capacity as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

After returning to the UK on Friday, Mr Gapes told the Recorder Afghanistan’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan, are important players in helping to free the country from the shackles of war.

He said: “There needs to be an agreement and regional neighbours should not meddle.

“Pakistan is crucial. There will not be a positive outcome in Afghanistan if Al-Qaeda and Taliban groups use Pakistan as a safe haven.

“Pakistan’s own stability threatens Afghanistan.”

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He added: “We don’t want Afghanistan to become a failed state again.”

Mr Gapes said he felt Pakistani officials did understand its own security issues, with the politician noting both Pakistani and Afghan Taliban were occupying the mountainous border between the two countries.

Mr Gapes said he was struck by the increase in development and infrastructure in the country since his last visit in April 2009.

He also stressed parts of Afghanistan are peaceful and stable, including Herat, which he visited last week.

“It’s not like the Afghanistan you see on the TV,” said Mr Gapes.

“You have to see Afghanistan in the round.”

Mr Gapes, who together with other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, watched members of the Afghan National Army undergo training, said he was touched by stories of the devastating floods in Pakistan which claimed more than 1,000 lives earlier this year.