Pakistan rejects Obama's 'AfPak' strategy
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari rejects his US counterpart's strategy for regional peace which links Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan and Pakistan are distinctly different countries and cannot be lumped together for any reason," Zardari told The Financial Times in an interview.
Earlier this year, the US President Barack Obama appointed senior diplomat Richard Holbrooke as his special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan in a move intended to address these two states as a single arena of conflict.
Zardari's comments reflect Pakistan's unwillingness to be aligned in a joint policy framework with neighboring Afghanistan, an approach referred to as 'AfPak'.
Zardari and his senior officials draw a fine line between Pakistan with functioning institutions, diversified economy and a powerful national army, and Afghanistan, a state shattered by decades of conflict and ethnic divisions, the newspaper reported.
"Pakistan does not have the luxury of time. Given the severity of the internal security challenge the country is facing, it is critical that the economy is provided with a strong stimulus as quickly as possible so that the maximum number of jobs are created in the shortest time," Zardari said.
"If international aid flows are delayed beyond the next few months, the country will be forced to cut development spending as well as the provision of critical social services. You can then imagine how big a setback that could be for the global war on terror," he added.