Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 15:03 UK

Miliband urges Pakistan reforms

David Miliband
The UK remains committed to giving aid to Pakistan, Mr Miliband said

UK foreign secretary David Miliband has urged a "thoroughgoing reform" of Pakistan following the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf.

He added that it was "essential" to "deepen" security co-operation and to continue fighting terrorism.

Mr Musharraf is facing impeachment over charges including gross misconduct.

Earlier, Downing Street wished him "well in the future", saying relations between Pakistan and the UK were "not dependent on one individual".

Mr Musharraf made an emotional speech announcing that he was stepping down to avoid an impeachment battle that would harm the nation's interests.

'Vital friend'

Mr Miliband said this brought "to a close a critical period in Pakistan's history and its relations with the UK and other countries".

He added: "Pakistan is a vital friend of the UK and it is essential for Britain's security, never mind the personal ties that bind nearly one million British people to Pakistan, that it has a strong and democratic government with a clear mandate and programme for thoroughgoing reform of its social, political and economic structures.

We will be clear about the essential nature of a new partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan
David Miliband

"In this context, the Musharraf years yielded significant dividends, notably in the economic field but also, until last autumn, in areas like media freedom.

"It is important to highlight President Musharraf's commitment to tackle terrorism, to promote dialogue with India, especially over Kashmir, and to root out corruption."

He added: "The UK will remain strongly committed to its partnership with the Pakistani people, notably through our aid programme.

"We will also continue to deepen our security co-operation with the new government. And we will be clear about the essential nature of a new partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"I look forward to the early election of a new president in Pakistan to take forward the important shared work that binds our two countries together."

'Rule of law'

A Downing Street spokesman said: "There has been a deepening of UK-Pakistan relations. We wish him [Mr Musharraf] well in the future.

"Our relations are not dependent on one individual. We support any measures which support democracy and the rule of law."

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague, for the Conservatives, called Mr Musharraf "a strong friend of Britain and a crucial ally against the spread of terrorism".

He added: "Britain should give [Pakistan] strong support in promoting the economic and social development of their country and building on the dialogue with India over Kashmir."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: "Musharraf's rule set back democratic progress in Pakistan.

"Its properly elected politicians must now be given the space, free from interference from the military, to restore good governance in the country."

Labour MP Mike Gapes, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said: "I welcome the fact that this is the culmination of the restoration of democracy in Pakistan.

"And I hope that it will now mean that the new Pakistani government can concentrate on the pressing problems that they face both internally and internationally, and forge better relations with their neighbours."

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