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Pakistanis keep a close eye on "Af-Pak"

In Britain, Pakistani immigrants worry about the talks' repercussions.

President Barack Obama is flanked by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (L) and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari at a White House press conference May 6, 2009. Obama brought in the Afghan and Pakistani presidents to promote cooperation against the Taliban, but Afghan civilian deaths cast a shadow on the talks. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

LONDON — The so called Af-Pak summit is over. President Obama hosted Pakistan's President Ali Asif Zardari and Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai this week for discussions on securing their border and rolling back Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Not a lot of news happened when the three leaders had their meeting, so if you live in America you may not have been checking your RSS feeds for the latest update. It's possible that if you live in Afghanistan you weren't aware of what was happening at all. But in Pakistan people were definitely paying attention. People were also paying attention around Britain in the cities where Britons of Pakistani origin live — London, Birmingham, Glasgow and the old industrial centers of northern England. What happens in the mother country and American policy toward Pakistan has a profound effect on their lives.

Britain is home to the second largest community in the Pakistani diaspora (the largest is in Saudi Arabia where immigrants from Pakistan do the heavy lifting and dirty jobs of the Royal Kingdom). More than a million people of Pakistani origin live in Britain but that number does not begin to tell the story of the close ties between the immigrant community and the mother country. According to Britain's Home Office, a quarter of a million Pakistanis come to Britain every year to study or do business, at the same time 350,000 British Pakistanis return to the mother country to visit family. Then there is fact that the community is constantly refreshed by recent arrivals. Six out of 10 British Pakistanis take a spouse from Pakistan.

With contacts this close it's no surprise that as the three presidents prepared to meet Britain's local government, representatives of Pakistani origin were gathering at the House of Lords to agree on a resolution stating their views of the crisis. The statement took all sides to task: the Taliban for its attacks on women, the Pakistani government for being not firm enough in its pursuit of terrorists and the U.S. for its drone attacks on targets in the Northwest provinces.