Zardari to address British Pakistanis for support

Zardari to address British Pakistanis for support
# 07 August 2010 18:19 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. President Asif Ali Zardari addresses Britain’s Pakistani community on Saturday after coming under fire at home for being out of Pakistan during its worst flooding in 80 years, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Zardari is due to speak at a rally in the city of Birmingham after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday in which they agreed to do more together to fight Islamist militancy and brushed aside a diplomatic spat.
"Storms will come and storms will go and Pakistan and Britain will stand together," Zardari said after meeting Cameron, who had angered Pakistanis with comments last week that Pakistan must not "look both ways" when dealing with militants.
Cameron’s comments during a visit to Pakistan’s arch-rival India prompted the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency to say its chief was cancelling a trip to Britain in protest, raising fears of a reduction in counter-terrorism cooperation.
Officials from both countries have played down those fears, with Cameron speaking on Friday of an "unbreakable relationship between Britain and Pakistan based on our mutual interests".
It is a measure of how important that relationship is that Zardari should choose to address a rally in Britain -- a rare event for a visiting head of state and a sign of the significance of the British Pakistani community.
Britain has more than one million people of Pakistani origin, the majority of them from what was once the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which lies at the heart of tensions between Pakistan and India.
Security analysts say that the combination of poverty, unemployment, racism and political grievances among some members of the community provide a fertile breeding ground for the few who seek to join Islamist militant groups based in Pakistan.
Dubbed the "Kashmir escalator", both Britain and Pakistan have tried to tackle it through sharing intelligence.
It was still unclear whether Zardari had managed to patch up the diplomatic row with Britain to prevent any damage to intelligence sharing.
With at least 1,600 people killed by floods in Pakistan, more than 100 Pakistanis protested on Saturday outside the international convention centre where Zardari was due to speak, many urging him to return to his disaster-stricken country.
Among competing protests by groups from various political organisations, one man shouted over a megaphone for an independent Kashmir, while others urged the president to go home, chanting "Go Zardari, go!"
One banner read "Zardari, part-time president!" and another "Thousands dying; president holidaying!"
The Birmingham event had raised expectations that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the president and the late Benazir Bhutto, would make his first major political speech there after graduating in June from Oxford University.
But in an apparent attempt to appease anger at home over the floods, Bilawal Bhutto on Thursday cancelled plans to attend and said he would instead stay in London to collect donations for flood victims.