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Ed Miliband recognises Afghan war has destabilised Pakistan

LONDON: Opposition leader in the British parliament Ed Miliband has said that his party considered P

January 20, 2013
LONDON: Opposition leader in the British parliament Ed Miliband has said that his party considered Pakistan an important regional ally and took interest in its affairs but would not interfere in its internal politics.
Speaking to The News at the Regent Park Mosque’s Islamic Cultural Centre where the Labour leader, who is campaigning hard to become the next prime minister of Britain, said his party wanted a “stable, democratic and strong Pakistan” and recognised that the war in Afghanistan had had destabilising affects on Pakistan.
Miliband said that he supported British government’s stance that the British troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 but “will ensure that they leave behind a stable and secure Afghanistan”.
When asked about the failures of the Nato forces to bring peace after more than 10 years of war and the fact that Taliban control some parts of Afghanistan and have emerged as a definite local force, Miliband said he supported dialogue with the Taliban and all other forces in Afghanistan.
Miliband had famously admitted that Britain was wrong to launch war on Iraq under Tony Blair but has not yet said the same about Afghanistan and toes the establishment line that Britain went to Afghanistan to fight terrorism “emanating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border” and the view that the 9/11 attackers were trained in these areas. Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all times high in Britain and politicians, including Ed Miliband, are calling for patience of the public and use the British troops’ withdrawal date as an excuse to stay on in Afghanistan for some more time.
More than 500 Muslim community members gathered in the centre to interact with the Labour leader and share their thoughts and worries about different national and local issues facing them, especially the legislation affecting them, the effects of the ‘war on terror’ on them and Labour’s and Conservative’s joint strategy of excluding those Muslim organisations which oppose Britain’s foreign policy, in particular wars on Muslim countries.
Miliband said that the current government’s economic policies were clearly not working and were affecting middle class families in a cruel way.
He said that students from poor background who relied on Educational Maintenance Allowance are being deprived of their right to gain education and families are being put on diet. “We need a country that works for everyone, not for a few rich. We can build a new country if we all work together,” he said.
He indicated that in next elections, his party will field more candidates from Muslim background and urged Muslims to take part in politics and engage more. Miliband, whose Jewish parents migrated to Britain when they were young, said he understood the issues of immigrant communities and knew what matters to them.
Ed Miliband was joined on the platform by his former Campaign Manager for his successful leadership. Khan, who is the Shadow Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, said: “This is the first time a Leader of a mainstream Political Party in the UK has engaged in such an open and transparent fashion. Ed set out in his major speech at Labour party conference last year that he intends to be a One Nation leader of One Nation.
And this includes having more Muslims in all positions of the Labour Party and using the talents of all in our country.
“It is welcome that Ed is reaching out to British Muslims. He is not only keen to show how the Labour Party has changed and learnt the lessons of the past but also has the answers to some of the difficult challenges we face. I am pleased that Ed has given his commitment to look at some of the serious issues raised by the audience and to ensure the dialogue continues.”