Zardari denounces US strikes inside Pakistan

Politics Materials 26 September 2008 03:31 (UTC +04:00)
Zardari denounces US strikes inside Pakistan

Pakistan's new President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday used the UN General Assembly podium to denounce the United States for conducting unauthorized military strikes against terrorist targets inside Pakistani territory, reported dpa.

"Unilateral actions of great powers should not inflame the passion of allies," Zardari said in his first appearance before a body that has been used often by some world leaders to attack US foreign policies.

"Violating our nation's sovereignty is not helpful in eliminating the terrorist menace. Indeed, this could have the opposite effect."

He said that Pakistan is living with terrorism.

"Our children and wives have been blown up before us," Zardari said in a reference to the assassination last year of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, during an election campaign.

"A democratic Pakistan is in the process of reaching the national consensus necessary to confront and defeat the terrorists. Only a democratic government can win this war."

He vowed to defeat terrorism with the help of the United Nations and called for political will, popular mobilization and a socio- economic strategy that "wins the hearts and minds of nations."

Zardari denounced his predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, as a "brutal" military dictator who abused human rights and carried out "systematic destruction of the foundations of democracy and civil society."

"Sadly, the world stood silent as dictators ruled our people with a bloody fist," Zardari said. "Nations that were founded on democracy were silent for reasons of expediency. My wife would say that they 'danced with dictators.'"

He called on Myanmar's military regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, who has spent more than 10 years under house arrest.

Zardari called for "better relations" among Pakistan, India and Afghanistan and pledged to work with NATO to ensure security over Pakistan's borders with Afghanistan. NATO is maintaining thousands of troops to provide security for the Afghan government.

Pakistan and India should "accommodate each other's concern and interests," Zardari said, calling for resolution to long-standing disputes between the two neighbours.