Will the UK and Pakistan co-operate on security interests?

(Bursa Escort) — There are question marks over the way Pakistans army defines its enemies

Pakistans army chief Gen Raheel Sharif has said there will be no let up in the militarys offensive against Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan

The campaign will go on through the winter months he said during a three day visit to London There will be no turning back

The Pakistan army operation in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan began last summer long before the attack on a school in the city of Peshawar in which Pakistani Taliban militants killed more than 130 children

But the general said the massacre had given the army extra resolve to fight the militants We didnt expect them to attack children,” he said

Gen Sharif told Britains Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon that militants near the Afghan border remained in just a few pockets”.

But in Peshawar analysts and journalists report that in fact the militants still control significant amounts of territory in North Waziristan and that the army offensive has so far only managed to clear the urban areas

There are also question marks over the way the army defines its enemies While it is fully engaged against the TTP Punjabi-based militant groups such as Lashkar e Toiba which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks are free to operate in Pakistan without interference

Privately Pakistani military officials argue that with so much fighting going on near the Afghan border they cannot be expected to simultaneously confront Punjabi groups Critics argue that in fact the army has no desire to confront Punjab-based groups most of which focus their attacks on Indian targets

There are similar debates concerning the armys attitude towards the Afghan Taliban and the cross-border Haqqani network which in 2011 was described by the then chairman of the US joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen as a veritable arm of Pakistans most powerful intelligence agency the ISI

Despite all lingering questions about Pakistan trying to distinguish between the so-called good and bad Taliban Gen Sharif insisted that Pakistan had reviewed its Afghan policy and was genuinely committed to the establishment of a broad-based government in Kabul under the leadership of President Ashraf Ghani

As well as discussing Pakistans desire to receive more military equipment and training from the UK officials from the two countries traded requests for co-operation in relation to individuals on each others soil

Gen Sharif asked that the British take action against Baloch separatists living in London including Hyrbyair Marri who Pakistani officials say is the leader of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). The general requested that the BLA be listed as a terrorist organisation and that legal measures be taken against any of its leaders based in London

For more than a decade the BLA has been in open rebellion in the Pakistani province of Balochistan A long-running army campaign has contained the insurgency but not managed to bring it to an end

Mr Marri was cleared of terror charges in a British court in 2009 Human rights activists complained at the time that he was only put on trial at the request of Pakistani leader Gen Pervez Musharraf

Given that Mr Marri was found not guilty it would seem all but impossible for the British authorities to retry him

For their part British Home Office officials asked for Pakistani co-operation regarding the MQM political party The MQM has 20 members in Pakistans National Assembly most elected from constituencies in Pakistans biggest and richest city Karachi

The MQM leader Altaf Hussein has lived in north London for more than 20 years and successive Pakistani governments have complained that British officials have turned a blind eye to the partys willingness to use violence to get its way

Following the murder of the MQM deputy leader Imran Farooq in London in 2010 the party has been the subject of a major British police investigation

The UK is pressing Pakistan to release two men – Mohsin Ali Syed and Mohammed Kashif Khan Kamran – who they suspect of carrying out the murder and who are currently thought to be in ISI custody in Pakistan

Despite all the warm words expressed by the Pakistani delegation and its British hosts it is unlikely that either government will move to help the other

While the British authorities cant see what they could charge the Baloch separatists with the Pakistanis are reluctant to give up the MQM suspects For as long as they remain in ISI custody they provide the army with a valuable lever over the MQMs parliamentary bloc

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