LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday the threat from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan had reduced, but progress could still be undone and a political surge was needed in Afghanistan. Reporting to parliament after his first trip to Afghanistan as Prime Minister last week, Cameron said the combined efforts of international and Afghan forces and of Pakistani forces on the other side of the border had led to significant progress. Today I am advised that the threat from Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and Pakistan has reduced, he said. But I am also advised that if it were not for the current presence of UK and international forces, Al-Qaeda would return to Afghanistan and the threat to the UK would rise, he said. Cameron highlighted progress in boosting the Afghan National Army, telling legislators that 17,000 new recruits had joined the ranks in the six months until March 2010, an increase of almost 20 per cent. However, he said the Afghan police were assessed to be ineffective or barely able to operate in six of the 13 provinces covered by US General Stanley McChrystals strategic plan for Afghanistan. Cameron stressed that efforts to bolster Afghanistans own security forces were crucial to the international coalitions overall strategy, along with military efforts to oust Taliban fighters from villages and towns. But he also said that there would be no solution to the Afghan conflict by military means alone. Insurgencies usually end with political settlements, not military victories, and that is why I have always said that we need a political surge to accompany the military one, he said. Getting individual Taliban fighters to put down their weapons was a first step, Cameron said, but long-term stability depended on a wider reconciliation process. He said he had agreed on this with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who plans to reach out to insurgents to try to bring an end to the conflict, during his visit last week. While visiting troops on the ground in Afghanistan, Cameron said he would double the operational allowance soldiers receive while on active service in the country, and pledged to give them all the equipment they needed. British forces have been locked in some of the fiercest fighting against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and 295 British soldiers have lost their lives there since 2001. His promises came at a time when Britain plans sharp cuts to defence spending as part of efforts to tackle a worrisome budget deficit.