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President Zardari tells UN to act against blasphemers

26 September, 2012

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UNITED NATIONS: Addressing the UN General Assembly late on Tuesday, President Asif Ali Zardari stressed that Pakistan sought trade rather than aid, thanking the European Union member states for recognising the value of trade to Pakistan.

"By granting trade concession to Pakistan, the EU has sent a positive message. The trade concessions will help us revive the economy and fight terrorism," he added.

President Zardari started his speech by expressing strong condemnation "for the acts of incitement of hate against the faith of Muslims of the world and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)".

He said the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalise acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression. Urging the world community to refrain from the 'do more' mantra, the president said no country and its people had suffered more in the struggle against terrorism than Pakistan. He said drone strikes and civilian casualties added to complexity in Pakistan's battle for hearts and minds through the struggle.

"To those who say we have not done enough, I say in all humility: please do not insult the memory of our dead, and the pain of our living. Do not ask of my people, what no one has ever asked of any other peoples. Do not demonise the innocent women, and children of Pakistan. And please, stop this refrain to do more."

He said the growing regional pivot in Pakistan's foreign policy reflected its democratic policy-making. By normalising trade relations, he said, "we want to create a regional South Asian narrative. This narrative will provide an environment that will mutually benefit the countries of our region. One of them is the tendency to respond to failure through blame. Pakistan does not blame others for the challenges it faces. We believe we should look for win-win solutions. Regional cooperation and connectivity will bring us closer and bind us together".

He said Pakistan's hosting of a quadrilateral summit next month and signing of the Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement were proof of its commitment to regional connectivity.

Zardari said further there were enormous challenges globally. He said, "We must work to end poverty, protect the planet, and mitigate climate change, ensure equal rights to all peoples, and protect the weak and vulnerable, pursue justice and fairness for all people, pursue the peaceful settlement of international disputes, save our current and future generations from the horrors of war." He added Pakistan was proud of going above and beyond the call of duty in fulfilling its international responsibilities.

On the Palestine issue, the president said Pakistan supports the rights of the Palestinian people and an independent Palestinian state, adding, "We also favour the admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations."

Speaking on terrorism, President Zardari said Pakistan had lost over 7,000 soldiers and policemen, and over 37,000 civilians in fight against the menace. He also spoke about the assassinations of minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer (whom he called his friend), as well as former premier Benazir Bhutto, saying Pakistan had lost them all to the extremist mindset. He said terrorism and extremism had destroyed human lives, torn social fabric, and devastated the economy. Zardari said terrorist activities within the region and around the world were funded and fuelled by the unrestricted production and sale of illegal drugs, adding Pakistan had pursued an ambitious agenda to control the menace.

Talking about South Asia, Zardari spoke about the ever-strengthening ties between Pakistan and China, and engagements to deepen friendship with Afghanistan. "A brighter Afghan future will only be possible when the search for peace is Afghan-owned, Afghan-driven and Afghan-led. Pakistan will support in every way possible, any process that reflects Afghan national consensus."

Zardari also said Pakistan would continue to support the right of the people of Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with UN resolutions.

End.

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