HC Deb 18 December 1962 vol 669 cc1084-5
Q9. Mr. Rankin

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he has had with President Ayub Khan on the future rôle of Pakistan in the Central Treaty Organisation and in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

Any consultations which my right hon. Friend might have with President Ayub Khan on these matters would be confidential.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, a few days before this Question was tabled, the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan stated that if necessary his Government were prepared to dissociate themselves from pacts with the West and obviously these were the two that were referred to? If they did so, would it be such a bad thing in view of the fact that a problem such as Kashmir is irritated by Pakistan's membership of these two Treaty bodies in the eyes of India, because she has no connection and it leads to trouble on the Indian frontier?

Mr. Butler

Pakistani Ministers have stated that Pakistan will honour her international commitments. I would only refer the hon. Member to the statement issued after my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary had discussions in Pakistan, to which I cannot add.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that that supplementary question is both mischievous and irrelevant and that recent events on the Indian sub-continent have proved the value of Pakistan's association with the West and the sad results that can happen to those countries which do not take a definite line of alignment with the West in what happens in the world?

Mr. Butler

It would be impossible to overrate the importance of Pakistan's alliances with the West.

Mr. Blyton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that President Ayub Khan is a great friend of England and that the troubles that have happened in Kashmir have been going on for a long time and have to be resolved some time? Is he aware that Pakistan is not playing with Communist tigers but is a friend of Britain and that it would be better if the Indians settled the Kashmir problem so that there could be a general defence of the Northern frontier against Communism?

Mr. Butler

I am sure that the whole House will endorse the hon. Member's observations about the importance of a settlement or at least an understanding about the Kashmir problem.