Unity needed to counter terror head-on: Zardari
22 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday, while reiterating the resolve to continue fighting militancy, stressed the need to have greater unity to confront militancy head-on.
"There is need to have consensus following the policy of reconciliation to achieve the desired results in the war against terror and ensure peace and security," said the president while addressing the concluding session of 5th National Conference of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) at the Presidency. He complimented SAFMA and its Secretary General Imtiaz Alam for their role in promoting freedom of media and peace in the region.
He said that SAFMA deserves to be commended by all those who wish to promote peace and cooperation in the region. The president said that the basis proposed two decades ago by Benazir Bhutto for fruitful cooperation among the SAARC countries was still valid. He said that he was pleased to learn that SAFMA has addressed some of the most important issues –ranging from attack on Malala Yousufzai to the threats to democratic values, to media accountability, gender issues and holding of free and fair elections.
Zardari drew attention of the participants towards polarisation in society and emphasised upon the need for greater unity in wake of the threats by the militants to the peace, including attack on children. He urged all the segments of society, including the media, to sit together and help evolve consensus of society to defeat the mindset that attack innocent girls like Malala.
"The attack on Malala Yousufzai was an attack on our values and on the future of our new generation," he said. President's spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar added that the president, while referring to attack on Malala, said it was not an ordinary terrorist act. He said that Malala was attacked because she raised the flag of peace and education for children. The president said the government had provided best possible treatment to Malala and other girls injured in the incident. He said the government also offered security to the teenage activist but her father refused it.
Zardari said that the terrorists seek to impose their agenda by force which, he said, cannot be allowed under any circumstance. He underscored that the fight against extremism was going to be a long one and on all fronts. He said that it was wrong to link attack on Malala to the reaction against the war in Afghanistan or drone attacks. Those doing so are in fact justifying terrorism, he added.
He said the government has taken a firm stand against terrorism. "We have consistently opposed drone attacks and we will continue to oppose them. Drone attacks were a violation of our sovereignty and are counterproductive," he added. He expressed government's firm resolve to protect the people from extremists and militants. "We will also not permit the militants use our territory to launch attack outside our borders." The president said that terrorist on both sides of the border kill the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He said that both people and the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan should join hands in eliminating the terrorists and their hideouts. Blame game will be counterproductive to the cause and will only strengthen the militants, he said. Referring to sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war against terrorism, he said, the government has taken a firm stand against terrorism and developed consensus before undertaking operations in Swat. He said there is need for creating the same consensus in order to confront the terrorists head on.
Pointing to polarisation in society on the issue of dealing with militancy, the president regretted that when former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in broad daylight there were very few people who came up in the open to condemn the extremist mindset. While recounting Pakistan's huge sacrifices in the war against terror and the resulting economic challenges, Zardari appreciated Chinese assistance and said that China helped Pakistan in coping with the daunting economic problems.