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 harbouring 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
Zardari asked, "So why is it unreasonable for us to be
concerned about the immediate and long-term situation of our
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
"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"
"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,"