Pak-UK blame game begins over security procedures
* British officials say intelligence on arrested suspects came from MI6 operations in Pakistan
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: A diplomatic standoff between London and Islamabad erupted on Friday after Britain accused Pakistan of naivety over Britain’s tests for overseas students, following the Pakistani high commissioner to London blaming Britain for allowing terror suspects enter the country.
A report in Guardian newspaper said Phil Woolas, British immigration minister, had expressed his government’s irritation with Pakistan, saying it was “naive to think that we don’t check, we do work very closely with the Pakistan authorities, indeed we’ve been criticised for doing so”.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Al Jazeera television that “most of Al Qaeda’s base is in Pakistan” and “we need all the cooperation that we have with the Pakistani authorities” to deal with terrorists operating from that country.
Brown tried to calm the rift on Thursday, phoning Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. But tension was still there, with Pakistani High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan saying Britain was failing to do enough to stop terror suspects entering the country.
“It was at your end you have to do something more. We are raiding people, we are arresting suspects wherever we find them,” Hasan told Newsnight.
But government sources in Britain dismissed Hasan’s criticisms, saying he had accused Britain to ensure Pakistan was not blamed.
One Whitehall source was quoted by Guardian as saying that it was “completely wrong to say we are not looking at their local intelligence. Of course we look at their list. But if their intelligence is so good why was the Marriott Hotel [in Islamabad] blown”?
Intelligence: Meanwhile, the paper said it had learnt that key intelligence that led to security officials fearing a terrorist cell was to launch a large-scale bomb attack on British soil came from MI6 operations targeting Pakistan.
“Sources with knowledge of the investigation say the intelligence gathered first from abroad and then in Britain before Wednesday’s raids, left counterterrorism officials believing there was too high a risk of an imminent attempt to bomb targets in Britain and cause mass casualties,” the paper said.
But intensive searches linked to the arrested Al Qaeda suspects have so far failed to produce results. “Forty-eight hours after the arrests, sources close to the inquiry say no evidence has been found of bombs, bomb-making parts, precursor chemicals to make explosives, a bomb factory, weapons or ammunition,” the paper reported.
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