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Pak positioning itself for endgame in Afghanistan: Zardari

October 01
02:38 2011

President Asif Ali Zardari

WASHINGTON: Claiming that Pakistan was positioning itself for the endgame in Afghanistan — post US forces withdrawal — President Asif Ali Zardari has asked why was it unreasonable for Islamabad to be concerned about situation on its Western border.

Backing the recent all-party resolution that Pakistan will be guided by its national interest in response to all challenges, Zardari in an Op-ed in the Washington Post said that recent US accusations against Pakistan of harboring and supporting Haqqani terror network were a serious setback to the war effort against terror.

Zardari did not attend the nine hours all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday against the backdrop of growing tensions with the US and threats of unilateral American military action against Haqqani militants holed up in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

“As the US plans to remove its ground forces from Afghanistan and once again leave our region, we are attempting to prepare for post-withdrawal realities,” the Pakistan President said.

Zardari asked, “So why is it unreasonable for us to be concerned about the immediate and long-term situation of our Western border?”

The strategy of blaming Pakistan not only had a damaging impact on the relationship between the two countries, it also compromises common goals of defeating terrorism, extremism and fanaticism, he wrote.

“It is time for the rhetoric to cool and for serious dialogue between allies to resume,” the Pakistan President said.

“The sooner we stop shooting verbal arrows at each other and coordinate our resources against the advancing flag of fanaticism,” Zardari said, sooner “we can restore stability” in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan sits on many critical fault lines. Terrorism is not a statistic for us. Our geopolitical location forces us to look to a future where the great global wars will be fought on the battleground of ideas.

“From the Middle East to South Asia, a hurricane of change is transforming closed societies into marketplaces of competing narratives. The contest between the incendiary politics of extremism and the slow burn of modern democracy is already being fought in every village filled with cellphones, in every schoolroom, on every television talk show,” he said, declaring that in this battle moderation must win.

He also mentioned the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the decade old war on terror and said, “We have suffered more than 300 suicide bomb attacks, lost 30,000 civilians and 5,000 military and police officials and have hemorrhaged approximately USD 100 billion directly in the war effort.”

“The war is being fought in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, yet Washington has invested almost nothing on our side of the border and hundreds of billions of dollars on the other side,” Zardari lamented.-PTI

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