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Mr. Salmond: The right hon. Lady indicated earlier that she would seek to have published the UK's response under article 51 of the Security Council. Is she also aware that the American response talks about further action in respect of other organisations and states? Given the restraint of President Bush and Colin Powell until now, that the opinion of many Islamic countries is on a knife edge and that the view in the presidential palaces is perhaps different from that on the streets, I cannot understand the wisdom of that statement now. I should like to know whether the Government agree with that statement and whether a statement of that sort is in their letter to the Security Council.
Many hon. Members stressed the need for the United Nations to be involved in building a new Afghanistan. The Government are sympathetic to that argument, but all hon. Members should be clear that the Afghan people are very proud and have an independent spirit. It is not for us to lay down the exact mechanism that will bring about a better governed and more inclusive Afghanistan.
It is not an objective of the military campaign to bring down the Taliban Government as such; it is to bring to justice terrorists and prevent the sort of action that was brought about in the United States by the terrorist network. However, the Taliban Government and the al-Qaeda network are so intertwined that it is almost impossible to believe that one objective can be achieved without it bringing about the other. We are looking for a new government in Afghanistan, therefore, which needs to be inclusive of all its people and to be a much better government than the people of Afghanistan have seen for a long time. There is a strong possibility that the United Nations will be involved in that process, but we must respect the people of Afghanistan and their wishes.
Mr. Shaw: Does my right hon. Friend agree that 7 million people who have been beaten and abused for 20 years and who are starving are unlikely to have the impetus, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, to rise up against the Taliban and to say that they want a better future? Is it not up to the west and the alliance to provide that impetus? How do we test an impetus? If that test is not met, will we have another 20 years to wait for another bin Laden?
Clare Short: I am afraid that my hon. Friend was not listening too closely. I do not think that anyone has talked of the people of Afghanistan rising up. There is evidence of Taliban authority and control beginning to crumble in parts of the country. That is the optimistic scenariothat it will crumble and a new regime can be put in place.
I said that it was unlikely that the objectives of the military campaign could be achieved with the Taliban remaining in place, given that they have failed to respond to the international call to hand over those guilty of the terrorist actions in the United States. We are talking about a process to bring about a new inclusive government in Afghanistan and about ensuring that the international community does not impose a government that represents only some of the peoplethat there is an inclusive process, they are all consulted and all the different ethnic groups are included in the formation of a new government that ought in time to be renewed by democratic means.
The hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) said, eloquently and rightly, that war is always an evil but that in this case it is necessary. That is the spirit of the House. We should never celebrate war. Sometimes, regrettably, it is necessaryas it is in this casebut it is a necessary evil and we should always try to minimise the number of people hurt in the process.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Roger Casale) said that we need to be determined to strengthen global institutions in the face of this sort of crisis, as well as keeping our commitment to global social justice. He is right and, again, that was the mood of the whole House.
The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) called strongly for bombing Afghanistan with food to bring an end to its people's troubles, but she showed greatness of spirit when she accepted that military action was probably necessary too.
The hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) very effectively made the case for this military action being self-defence under the United Nations charter. It is about not only bringing those who are guilty to justiceimportant though that isbut stopping what happened happening again, possibly in our country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy) spoke of his generation's expectation of real global social justice for all people in the world. We all say amen to that. The hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) said that we must be clear that we are taking action not in revenge but in our own interests and those of the people of Afghanistan. That is right, too. Our objective is to make our own country and the world safe from such terrorism in the futureto bring about a change in Afghanistan that will also offer a better future for its people.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) talked about the need for a just war and perhaps revealed the kind of education that he had as a child, which I shared. We were thoroughly grounded in the principles of a just war. I heard a discussion on the radio one Sunday morning, in which the Islamic teaching on a just war was outlined. It absolutely parallels the principles that underpin Christian teaching. I am sure that all the principlesproportionality, there being no other way, and the requirement that the action can be successfulare fulfilled in this case. The campaign absolutely meets the principles of a just war and we have to ensure that people across the world understand that that is our approach and that it is our determination to carry this through to success.
The hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) raised the question of debt in Pakistan, and I have responded to that. He also spoke eloquently of how asylum seekers coming to his constituency taught him
Many other hon. Members raised important points, and it is impossible for me to do justice to them all. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Geraint Davies) said that we must not allow the stoking up of prejudice and enmity at home and abroad. Again, we have the determination across the House, with a few exceptions, to hold together our own multicultural community and reassure our Muslim communities that we stand for justice and echo the voice that we have all heard in our constituencies that Muslims find what happened in the United States of America abhorrent. This is not a battle with Islam but a battle against evil. Islam teaches that innocent civilians should never be killed in the course of warfare in the way that happened in the United States.
My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Mr. Roy) talked about the need to destroy the poppy fields. Indeed. The poppies that are used to manufacture drugs that end up on our streets and cause mayhem, human suffering and criminality are grown because many people in Afghanistan have no alternative decent livelihood. They do not use the drugs, but they grow the poppies because they are the only crop that brings them a rate of return. We have to guarantee to the people of Afghanistan a better legitimate livelihood so that they can see a better future for their children. Then the drugs will cease to be grown and come on to our streets, and our communities will prosper and be rid of the monstrous evil and criminality that comes with drugs and drug addiction.
I want to end by underlining once again our determination not just to provide aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to deal with the immediate crises but to increase the food and humanitarian relief getting into Afghanistan to see people through the crisis. We are determined to stick by Pakistan and Afghanistan for the long term, as hon. Members have called on us to do throughout the debate. Clearly, the role of Pakistan is crucial. We need to help that country with its short-term needs and economic reform, and with the transition to democracy. We have been engaged in that work for some time.
Hon. Members know that not very long ago there was a military coup in Pakistan. It was welcomed by almost all the people of Pakistan, and by our own communities living in the United Kingdom, because the two previous so-called democratic Governments had so misgoverned that country. There had been terrible corruption and blunder, absolute economic mismanagement and absolutely no social provision. The trends in maternal mortality and numbers of children in schools had gone into reverse.
No one welcomes a military coup, but Generalnow PresidentMusharraf has made it clear that he wants his Government to be a transitional Government to genuine democracy, better economic governance and better social provision for his people. We are determined to stay with the Government of Pakistan and help them to secure that aim. Already local democratic elections have taken place throughout the country. We provided technical support to ensure that those elections were well run, and they have been well run. The House might be pleased to know that that military Government made it a requirement that a
Pakistan has never previously completed any economic reform programme that it has agreed with the international community. Now, for the first time in its history, it has just completed an International Monetary Fund economic reform programme. Therefore we must help Pakistan in the short term, but we must stick with the reform effort in Pakistan.
When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was in Pakistan, he made it clear that we are looking to provide budgetary support, when Pakistan's new poverty reduction and growth facility is negotiated with the IMF, to ensure that it can provide better healthcare and education for the poor of that country, and also that we are determined to do all that we can to help with the debt relief that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Cotswold. I have made it clear that some debt that was owed to the Commonwealth Development Corporation, which has now been taken on to the budget of my Department, will be written off.
We must stick with Pakistan right through this crisis and into the future. The people of Pakistan deserve better government and we must ensure that the present Government is a transition to better government.