by timpickstone on 3 September, 2010
Earlier this week this week I went to Afghanistan and Pakistan to see for myself the problems and challenges that those countries face. The coalition government is committed to playing our part to helping ensure that the region has a peaceful and prosperous future.
It was my second visit to our armed forces in Afghanistan, where I saw again the bravery and professionalism of our troops. Whilst the situation in the country is still difficult, I believe that we are beginning to turn the corner. As the Prime Minister has made clear, British combat troops will leave Afghanistan by 2015 and it is important that by then we have a full political settlement to take the country forward.
Yesterday I was in Pakistan where I saw the almost unimaginable impact of the terrible floods. It is almost impossible to appreciate their scale â€” the affected area is approximately the same size as the UK.
I was deeply moved as I witnessed the flooding from the air. It is sadly clear that it will take years for life in Pakistan to come back to normal. I met with President Zardari and aid agency workers to discuss aid being delivered to Pakistan and what role Britain and the international community can play.
Iâ€™m proud that the British people and government have together contributed over Â£100m to assist the aid efforts. If you would like to donate to the DEC appeal for Pakistan, as I know many people will have done already, you can do so here: www.dec.org.uk