UK should distance itself from US drone attacks in Pakistan, says minister
Britain should distance itself from US missile attacks on al-Qaeda strongholds in the tribal areas of Pakistan, a Government minister has said.
By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent | April 12, 2009
Sadiq Khan, the minister for community cohesion, said Britain needed to rebuild its reputation in Pakistan where anger is mounting over the attacks launched by unmanned drones.
Mr Khan, who was in Pakistan on an official visit when counter-terrrorism raids took place in Manchester and Liverpool last week, said many young men there were angry with the attacks which have been blamed for killing innocent people as well as terrorists.
Rashid Rauf, the man said to be behind the alleged plot to target shopping centres in Manchester, was reported by the US as being killed in one such attack last year.
The attacks, which have been stepped up in recent months, are highly controversial in Pakistan, partly because they are seen as an American incursion on Pakistani sovereignty.
Mr Khan said the Government needed to make clear that Britain's foreign policy was different from Washington's.
The minister said: "In Islamabad, I spoke to university students about being British and Muslim, the values we share in the UK and the freedom to practise faith freely, be treated equally, protected against discrimination, and be active citizens with the freedom to voice our concerns and disagree without fear.
"In return, I listened to the anger and pain over the challenges that young Pakistanis growing up in Pakistan face, including the anger and frustration over US drone attacks.
"It is clear, in many Pakistanis' eyes, the UK is considered in the same terms as the US.
"One of the lessons of the Iraq war is that we need to ensure we are better at explaining our foreign policy, especially when it is distinct and different from [policy in] the US."
Mr Khan was later forced to clarify that he believed Britain needed to “stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are fighting terrorism” including both the US and Pakistan.