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Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism, says Zardari

December 09, 2008 11:18 IST
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"Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks," says Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in an oped in the December 8 issue of the New York Times.

Cautioning against 'hasty judgments and inflammatory statements', Zardari says that the raids of December 7 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which resulted in the arrest of some wanted Lashkar-e-Tayeba terrorists, demonstrates that 'Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.'

Drawing parallels between 26/11 and the October 18, 2007 attack on a homecoming rally for his wife and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari drives home a theme he has been harping on in public appearances, including on Larry King Live, in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks: that Pakistan in general and he in particular are as much victims of terror as India is, and that the two nations need to work in concert to end the threat.

Zardari argues that 26/11 and indeed all recent terror strikes are the work of 'non-state actors' who do not wish for the peace process to take root, and makes a plea for the two nations to get that process back on track.

Interestingly, Zardari draws on history to suggest that the world is complicit in the fostering of the terrorist ideology in Pakistan, and says it is now his country that is paying a price. 'These militants did not arise from whole cloth,' the Pakistan president writes. 'Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.

"Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of grievance and victimhood."

He rounds off by calling on the world to help 'strengthen Pakistan's economy and democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to fight the terrorists effectively. '

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