In what appears to be a first for a Pakistani leader, President Asif Ali Zardari has described Islamist groups operating in Kashmir as “terrorists”.
In a bid to distance himself from his predecessor, Zardari told The Wall Street Journal that Musharraf would more likely have called these terrorists "freedom fighters".
More surprises follow in the interview. "India has never been a threat to Pakistan. I, for one, and our democratic government are not scared of Indian influence abroad."
Zardari said that he had no objection to the India-US nuclear cooperation pact. “Why would we begrudge the largest democracy in the world getting friendly with one of the oldest democracies in the world?”
Welcoming Zardari’s statement on Kashmir, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said it “is confirmation of India’s assertions all these years”.
In contrast, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) took exception to Zardari’s description of militants as “terrorists” and said it would raise the issue in Pakistan’s parliament.