Pakistani President Zardari hopes new US administration will understand Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts


Washington : President Asif Ali Zardari has voiced the hope that the incoming Barack Obama administration would recognize Pakistan’s key anti-terror role as well as understand the fact that his South Asian country has been a victim of terrorism.

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“We think we need a new dialogue, and we’re hoping that the new (U.S.) government will . . . understand that Pakistan has done more than they recognize” and is a victim of the same insurgency the United States is fighting, he said in an interview with The Washington Post published on Sunday.

The president, who was in New York to attend the United Nations conference on inter-faith harmony, had telephonic conversations with senior Democratic leaders including Senator Hillary Clinton a top candidate for the post of Secretary of State in Obama Administration and Senator John Kerry – who is expected to be next chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Clinton expressed her support for passage of the Biden-Lugar legislation that will triple US economic assistance for Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for a decade.

President-elect Barack Obama, who assumes U.S. leadership on January 20, 2009, is a co‑sponsor of the Congressional move and in his statements on the eve of his historic November 4 victory, vowed support for Pakistan’s democracy and economic development of its people. He also pledged cooperation with Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

In the Post interview, President Zardari expressed his disapproval of the U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani areas along the Afghan border and urged Washington to instead provide the predator technology to Pakistan to enhance the ally;s ability to fight terrorism.

Such unilateral strikes, he said, harm efforts to win hearts and minds of the people. The United States should equip the country with sophisticated weapons to help its forces fight terrorists more effectively.

Rather than using U.S. Predator‑fired missiles against Pakistani territory, he asked, why not give Pakistan its own Predators? “Give them to us. . . . we are your allies,” he said.

Zardari said Pakistan receives “no prior notice” of the airstrikes and that he disapproves of them.

He also pointed out the sensitivity of civilian deaths. “If the damage is women and children, then the sensitivity of its effect increases,” the President said.

The U.S. “point of view,” he said, is that the attacks are good for everybody. Our point of view is that it is not good for our position of winning the hearts and minds of people.”