'Qaeda training ultras in Pak'

British premier Gordon Brown defends militarys Afghan mission

'Qaeda training ultras in Pak'


“There are still several hundred foreign fighters based in the FATA area of Pakistan and travelling to training camps to learn bomb making and weapons skills,” Brown said on Monday night in a speech defending Britain’s continuing military presence in Afghanistan. “It is because of the nature of the threat, and because around three quarters of the most serious plots the security services are now tracking in Britain have links to Pakistan, that it does not make sense to confine our defence against terrorism solely to actions inside the UK,” Brown said.

Brown’s comments come amid a rising demand for Britain to withdraw its 9,000 troops from Afghanistan, fuelled by a death toll of 232 since 2001. But Brown said since January 2008 seven of the top dozen al-Qaeda figures have been killed “depleting its reserve of experienced leaders and sapping its morale”.

He said the multi-nation force in Afghanistan had “greater success in this one year to disable al-Qaeda” than in any year since the invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. “Al-Qaeda rely on a permissive environment in the tribal areas of Pakistan and — if they can re-establish one — in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We are there because action in Afghanistan is not an alternative to action in Pakistan, but an inseparable support to it.” The prime minister also offered London as the venue for an international conference on Afghanistan early next year, where he is expected to discuss a timetable for the withdrawal of forces.

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