MABAD - Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production Nisar Memon has said that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased during the last few years and its income is being utilized by terrorists to purchase modern and sophisticated weapons.
He expressed these views in a meeting with an 8-member delegation of British House of Commons Defence Select Committee at the Parliament House here on Monday.
The delegation led by MP James Arbuthnot was comprised of British High Commissioner Robert Brinkley, MP David Havard, MP Richard Younger-Ross, Bernard Jenkin, David Borron, David Crausby and UK Defence Adviser to Pakistan Brigadier Steve Shery Adam Hollowly. Senators including Professor Khurshid Ahmed, Rukhsana Zuberi and Saadia Abbasi also attended the meeting.
"Pakistan wants a strong and stable Afghanistan and Afghan government should control poppy cultivation to abolish drug smuggling," Memon emphasised.
He said that Pakistan required latest technology to fight against terrorism, adding that it was direly needed to share information of intelligence between Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter terrorism across the border. "Pakistan would itself take action against terrorists if NATO forces provide information," he further said. "It is time to address the root causes of terrorism to get rid of this menace in tribal areas and development in socio-political, economic, political and education sectors is direly needed," Memon said.
He said it was for the first time in the history of the country that the defence budget was presented in the Parliament for detailed discussion. It was followed by presenting last year's breakdown of the defence expenditure by the last government to the defence committee.
He reiterated Pakistan's firm commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and said that an effective command and control system was in place and there was no threat to the nuclear assets. He informed the UK delegation that steps had been taken to initiate constructive dialogue with India to resolve various outstanding issues including the core issue of Kashmir. He said that a complete transition to a civil democratic culture had been in place since after the February 18 elections.
He said that people to people contacts were required between Pakistan and United Kingdom. It was agreed in the meeting that there should be regular exchange of Parliamentary visits to develop more understanding on issues of mutual significance and underlined the need for more concrete steps for sharing of information and intelligence among the stakeholders in war against terrorism in the region.
Memon said that regular meetings of Pak-UK Defence Committee Forum (DCF) had been helpful in opening up new avenues in defence cooperation.
"We have to examine the 9/11 incident and a judiciary inquiry should be conducted as America is responsible for it," Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed said. He said that America, Great Britain and Nato countries started the war against terrorism and engulfed the whole world. He said America should change its foreign policy regarding terrorism, adding war strategy of America, Britain and Nato countries had badly failed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MP James Arbuthnot, the leader of British House of Commons Defence Committee, termed the meeting of the two committees as historic one. He observed that both countries attached high priority and importance to cordial relations with each other and had shared values and commonality of views on many regional and global issues.
Arbuthnot said that Pakistan had played a commendable role in war against terror and more support was required from the world community to enable it to fight against that menace.