Zardari in an NBC interview aired after a week of talks in Washington
Zardari in an NBC interview aired after a week of talks in Washington, also demanded a global effort to fight Islamic extremism as Afghan President Hamid Karzai said a new surge of US troops in his country had been overdue.
Is the state of Pakistan going to collapse?’ Zardari said. No. We are 180 million people. There the population is much, much more than the insurgents are.’ Zardari admitted that Pakistan had a problem with the fundamentalist Taliban militia inside its borders and called for an international approach to extremism as a whole because it’s not Pakistan-specific.
So I think the world needs to understand that this is the new challenge of the 21st century, and this is the new war.
The Pakistani military said Sunday they had killed between 180 and 200 insurgents in the last 24 hours in their fierce offensive to push Taliban fighters out of the Swat valley in the country,s northwest.
The military has been pounding the Swat valley and nearby districts, triggering an exodus of refugees, after Taliban fighters advanced to within 100 kilometres of Islamabad despite a February peace deal.
The counter-attack came after strong US pressure, and Central Command chief General David Petraeus expressed confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear sites are safe from falling into Taliban hands.
We have confidence in their security procedures and elements and believe that the security of those sites is adequate,’ he said on the ‘Fox News Sunday program.
President Barack Obama backed Zardari,s own assertions about the security of Pakistans nuclear arsenal, but some other top US officials including National Security Advisor James Jones have expressed concern.
General Jones meanwhile said Sunday the United States would not hamper its forces in Afghanistan by banning air strikes but would redouble efforts to limit civilian casualties.
We cant fight with one hand tied behind our back he said on ABC television, arguing Karzai understands that we have to have the full complement of our offensive military power when we need it. Karzai who joined Zardari at the White House talks with Obama, complained that US tactics were alienating his nation, alleging that one air strike last week had killed up to 130 Afghan villagers including women and children.
The Afghan people say we are fighting together shoulder to shoulder against terrorism. That we are part of the struggle,’ Karzai said on NBC.
Our homes, our villages are not places for terrorism,he stressed. And that they should be safe.
Petraeus said: Well certainly relook this, yet again, in the wake of this latest incident. But he added that Afghanistan,s own investigations had shown that the ‘Taliban bear enormous blame’ by firing on US troops from inside villagers’
With Obama ordering the deployment of 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Karzai said the reinforcements were arriving ‘late’ in greater numbers but that ‘it’s never too late for a good thing.’