Patience is on edge: Zardari

Muhammad Tauseef A. Bajwa

Senator (1k+ posts)
Patience is on edge: Zardari
Published: April 11, 2011

President tells US politicians not to expect any short-term answers.

President Asif Ali Zardari said on Sunday that the war in Afghanistan is destabilising Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity after a decade of military rule.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian newspaper, Zardari also pointed to widespread concern in Pakistan at the slow pace of efforts to end the Afghan conflict, and said some US politicians showed limited understanding of the impact of American policies.

Just as the Mexican drug war on US borders makes a difference to Texas and American society, we are talking about a war on our border which is obviously having a huge effect. Only today a suicide bomber has attacked a police compound in Balochistan. I think it [the Afghan war] has an effect on the entire region, and specially our country, Zardari said. I think it is maybe 12 years since America has become engaged in Afghanistan and obviously everybodys patience is on edge, especially the American public, which is looking for answers. There are no short-term answers and it is very difficult to make the American taxpayer understand.

With less than three months left before Barack Obama has promised to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, the White House recriminations reflected the growing pressures on all three governments to agree a workable, long-term strategy.

A US congressional panel also weighed in this week, urging the Obama administration to abandon Pakistan in favour of India. Pakistan is about to go broke or collapse, said a New York Democrat.

Zardari suggested that if that assertion were true, the interventionist policies of the US and other foreign governments in South Asia would be a significant contributory factor. Pakistan had been in a state of security alert for several decades, he said. Our emphasis has been on security rather than our commerce and we need commerce for our survival.

We have all the gas in the world waiting to go through to markets in India and the Red Sea but it cannot be brought in until Afghanistan is settled. So Afghanistan is a growth issue for us. I think most of the time, the quantification of the effect of the war is not calculated [by the US].

Zardari, who is expected to visit Washington next month, said all parties felt a sense of growing urgency about forging an inclusive peace settlement in Afghanistan, but the process must be Afghan-led. Pakistan was ready to play its part, consistent with its national interest, they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2011.