The UK must distance itself from American foreign policy if Pakistani youths are to be prevented from growing up hating Britain, according to the government’s social cohesion minister.
The comments by Sadiq Khan, who has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Pakistan, follow the arrests of 12 men – 10 of whom were Pakistani nationals – in the north-west of England last week on suspicion of planning a terror attack. They are likely to be given short shrift from Number 10, which has been keen to ally itself to the Obama administration. Earlier this month Gordon Brown stressed the two allies were united in their fight against terrorism in Pakistan.
But Khan, London’s first Muslim MP, said the UK must differentiate itself from the US after attending meetings at universities in Pakistan. “I listened to the anger and pain over the challenges that young people growing up in Pakistan face, including the anger and frustration over US drone attacks,” he said.
The attacks by unmanned US drones have provoked fury in Pakistan, where scores of militants have been killed in the country’s remote border regions, along with innocent civilians.
“The anger and frustration at the drone attacks was huge,” Khan said. “The view they [the students] had was that the UK was somehow responsible for this. They haven’t understood this was purely a US matter. They lumped us together with the US, which to me is a poison. It demonstrates to me we have a big problem.”
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