President Pervez Musharraf last night urged Pakistani communities in the Midlands to play their part in combating extremism and help to strengthen economic ties between his nation and the UK.

On the last day of his visit to Britain, the president of Pakistan told The Birmingham Post the two countries had a special relationship based on their economic needs and fighting terrorism.

And he said he intended to visit Birmingham, which he hailed as a leading multi-cultural city, on his next trip to the UK.

Mr Musharraf said Prime Minister Gordon Brown's recent trip to India and the emergence of Pakistan's neighbour as a global industrial power was not detrimental to his nation.

"It is not a challenge for Pakistan. Every country has different trade, economic and social relationships," he said.

"I think the UK and Pakistan have a deep economic relationship and are also important players in the war against terrorism and extremism."

The West Midlands has large concentrations of people with links to Pakistan.

The Pakistani community in Birmingham - more than 104,000 according to 2001 Census - is the city's biggest ethnic community and claimed to be the largest concentration of Pakistanis outside the Asia sub-continent. Mr Musharraf said he recognised the significance of those populations and the role they could play in helping his country as well as contributing to Britain's prosperity.

"I know the Midlands is a major part of the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in the UK and I expect they will play a positive and progressive role against terrorism and extremism," he said.

"I urge especially young Pakistanis to play a leading role in education, politics, business and all other sectors and I hope they will play a positive role for a strong and developing Pakistan, and also work hard for Britain."

He added: "I'll be glad to visit Birmingham, a multi-cultural and multi-faith city of the UK, on my next visit."

Earlier Mr Musharraf and Prime Minister Gordon Brown held talks at Downing Street as chanting demonstrators protested outside against the Pakistani leader.

Mr Brown later hailed Pakistan as a "key ally in combating terrorism" and said he had been assured by Mr Musharraf that his country could hold "credible" elections next month.

Mr Musharraf's visit to London followed his six-week suspension of Pakistan's constitution at the end of last year after his disputed re-election as president.