AMID tight security and a news blackout, Colchester MP Bob Russell flew to Pakistan to talk to politicians about the fight against terrorism.

With Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade halfway through a six-month tour in Helmand province, Mr Russell talked to Pakistani leaders about the movement of insurgents across the border between their country and Afghanistan.

The trip was not without its risks. Shortly after the MP arrived in Karachi with a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, a suicide bomber killed two policeman.

After travelling in convoy with armed police in front and behind, he met Pakistan’s foreign secretary, the leader of the opposition and the speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, the first woman in Asia to hold the position.

Afterwards, the Lib Dem MP said: “The movement of terrorists in both directions over the long and mountainous border, which stretches for more than 1,000 miles and is extremely difficult to control, is clearly of great significance to Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan.”

He said the perception that there was a lack of will in Pakistan to tackle terrorism was wrong.

Mr Russell added: “The people of Pakistan are suffering, as is their economy, because of the expense in loss of life and the huge cost of fighting terrorism in their own country, as well as seeking to stop terrorists crossing into Afghanistan.”

Mr Russell also visited two universities and Rawalpindi Grammar School, where pupils regularly communicate by e-mail with youngsters at an Essex school, St Cedd’s Primary, in Bradwell-on-Sea.

He also refuted suggestions Pakistan did not welcome visitors who were women, or non-Muslims.

He said: “I was impressed with the efforts being made by the Pakistan authorities to tackle the so-called war on terrorism, which has damaged Pakistan more than any other country in the world.”