Saturday, July 11, 2009
Gordon Brown has defended the government's Afghanistan strategy, saying it is the right one despite a "dangerous battle" ahead.
The prime minister said the operation was aimed at preventing terrorism coming to the UK, after 15 British soldiers were killed in 10 days.
One soldier who died on Thursday has been named as Rifleman Daniel Hume, 22, from 4th Battalion The Rifles.
Rifleman Hume died in an explosion in southern Afghanistan.
Colleagues described him as "exceptionally gifted", while his family said the Berkshire-born soldier had found his place in the world since joining the Army.
The current major assault against the Taliban in Helmand aims to improve security ahead of next month's Afghan elections. Many UK troops are fighting in the south under the auspices of Operation Panchai Palang or Panther's Claw.
Anti-war campaigners have claimed the conflict is "unwinnable".
Mr Brown, who will appear before the Commons Liaison Committee next week, told its members the Afghanistan-Pakistan border had emerged as "a new crucible of terrorism" linked to three-quarters of the most serious plots against the UK.
In the letter, he said: "So our purpose is clear: to prevent terrorism coming to the streets of Britain.
"Our security depends on strengthening the Pakistan and Afghan governments to defeat both al-Qaeda and also the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban."
He added that if the Taliban were allowed to "overwhelm Pakistan's democracy", al-Qaeda would have "greater freedom from which to launch terrorist attacks across the world".
Mr Brown went on: "So this is a fight to clear terrorist networks from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to support the elected governments in both countries against the Taliban, to tackle the heroin trade which funds terrorism and the insurgency, and to build longer term stability."
He also paid tribute to "the fearless work of our troops" and added that despite the "tragic losses", morale remained high.