Yesterday evening, to the Shiraz Mirza Hall, for a packed dinner with Ed Davey MP, with guests from the local communities including Ahmadis, Arabs, Tamils and Koreans. It was great to meet so many of Ed's supporters from such a wide variety of backgrounds. The hall was named after Councillor Shiraz Mirza, the Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, who had raised the funds to build this and another hall for the benefit of local people. He told me he had served as Mayor twice, the first Asian councillor in the Royal Borough to have been given that honour.
I spoke about some of the issues Ed deals with as LibDem foreign affairs spokesman, and particularly the need to tackle the ideological motivation for terrorism: The people of Pakistan are now paying the penalty for successive governments' failure to stand up to extremists, in the wave of suicide bombings which have killed 179 people in the last two weeks alone, and I was glad to see this echoed in the headline of The Independent's first leader this morning: 'This is a battle that Islamabad should have embarked upon long ago'. But they are right to point out that so far there is little sign of action against the fundamentalist madrassas, which provide the ideological waters in which the terrorists swim. Military action in Waziristan is not going to dent the numbers of young people indoctrinated with Salafist hatred of mainstream Islam, which leads to indiscriminate killing of ordinary Pakistani citizens.