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Asif Ali Zardari asks US to back off

world Updated: Jul 14, 2008 23:15 IST

PTI
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PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has asked the US to avoid talk of “hot pursuit” of militants into Pakistan’s tribal areas and give the government time to enact its own policies without undue pressure.

Pakistan is in favour of the war on terror but it is unjustified for the US to expect miracles from a four-month-old government, he said.

Zardari also condemned the infiltration into Pakistani territory by the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chief’s comments came in the backdrop of reports that the US is considering the option of unilateral military action in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas, which have been described by US and Afghan officials as a safe haven for the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked top Pakistani military officials to “act decisively” against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the tribal areas during an unscheduled visit to Islamabad on Saturday.

Speaking to Business Plus TV channel, Zardari said Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani would take up the issue of infiltration into Pakistani territory by the US-led coalition forces with President George W. Bush during their upcoming meeting later this month. Zardari said Pakistan was against extremism and terrorism as it had lost one of its greatest leaders, former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, to the twin menaces.

He said the war against terrorism was being fought in Pakistan’s best interests. However, the country needs to pursue a dialogue in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in addition to employing force, because it was “facing its own countrymen”, he said.

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