Pakistani state is not going to collapse, says Zardari
11 May, 2009
WASHINGTON: President Asif Ali Zardari, in an interview aired on Sunday, strongly rejected the notion that Pakistan might collapse and called for international efforts to fight extremism.
“Is the state of Pakistan going to collapse?” Zardari asked himself rhetorically on NBC’s “Meet the Press” programme. “No. We are 180 million people. There the population is much, much more than the insurgents are.”
The president was responding to assessments by some US military analysts, who had raised the possibility of a collapse of the Pakistani state because the Taliban insurgency had so destabilised it. But Zardari admitted that Pakistan had “a problem” with Taliban activities inside its borders and suggested an international approach to address it.
“I think we need to find a strategy where the world gets together against this threat, because it’s not Pakistan-specific,” he said. “It’s not Afghanistan-specific. Like I said, it’s all the way from the Horn of Africa. You’ve had attacks in Spain. You’ve had attacks in Britain. You’ve had attacks in America. You’ve had attacks in Africa, Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“So I think the world needs to understand that this is the new challenge of the 21st Century, and this is the new war.” Zardari acknowledged Pakistan will need US help to succeed in this fight. “It’s an accepted position that you — we cannot work this problem out unless Pakistan, Afghanistan and America are on the same page,” he said.
Legislation has been introduced to the US Congress calling for a tripling of US civilian aid to Pakistan to 1.5 billion dollars per year over the next five years, and calls for “benchmarks” for measuring the effectiveness of the assistance.
But Zardari rejected suggestion that some limits on aid be imposed based on performance by Pakistan. “I feel that we shouldn’t have any, any kind of conditionalities,” he stated. “We should have result, a result-oriented relationship, where I should be given a timeline — and I’ll give you all a timeline — so we can both give each other timelines and meet the timelines on the positive.”
Meanwhile, President Zardari expressing his concern over the displacement of people from Swat and the Malakand Division directed the federal government to properly look after the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
He said he had taken up the issue of rehabilitation and safe return of the IDPs in his talks with the US leadership and the need for massive international help in this regard. He said that it was recognised and reflected in the supplementary budget of the US for this year.
He said he would continue his drive for garnering international support for the rehabilitation of the IDPs, which the president described as one of the top priorities of the nation. The president, in a message from New York, said the government should utilise all resources for proper rehabilitation of the IDPs, particularly the women and children.
He said the government should mobilise all the relevant institutions to provide necessary facilities to the IDPs, including the residential facilities. He referred to the prime minister’s announcement of the allocation of Rs one billion for the rehabilitation of the IDPs and said the government, if required, would provide further resources for the purpose. President Zardari also praised the armed forces for their courage in the war against terrorism and militancy.