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US disagrees with Zardari on war

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari may believe that the war in Afghanistan is lost, but hours after those views were made public, the Obama Administration and the British government were quick to refute them.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2010 22:56 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari may believe that the war in Afghanistan is lost, but hours after those views were made public, the Obama Administration and the British government were quick to refute them.

During his daily briefing, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made it clear that US President Barack Obama and Zardari were certainly not on the same page. Gibbs said, “I don’t think the President would agree that, with President Zardari’s conclusion that the war is lost.”

He also countered Zardari’s view, as reported in an interview to the French publication Le Monde, that the battle for the hearts and minds of the local populace had also been lost.

Gibbs reacted, “I don’t know why he’s come to that conclusion. But I think it is safe to say that the actions and the efforts that the coalition, international forces and American forces, have taken over the last several months have very much the hearts and minds of the Afghan people at the forefront.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron flatly rejected Zardari’s notion, saying NATO is “allowing life to go on”.

“We're protecting a large percentage of the population (in central Helmand province) keeping them free from terror and, in the areas that we are in, you now see markets functioning and schools open ... and life is actually able to go on. So I don’t accept that we’re losing the battle of hearts and minds,” Cameron told BBC WM radio.

Gibbs remarks were also supported by similar comments emerging from the US State Department. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said that Zardari was “entitled to his point of view.” But he added that the Obama Administration does “not think at this point that the tide has tilted one direction or the other.”

Crowley also underscored the belief that the conflict may be at an important stage, given that the surge of troops into Afghanistan, announced last December, has just about become effective. He said, “Our military leaders have made clear, we have not yet won, but I don’t think that I would characterise that we are losing.”