President Asif Ali Zardari has rejected the US strategy of linking its policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan in an effort to end the Taliban insurgency and bring stability to the region, saying that the two different countries cannot be "lumped" together for any reason.
"Afghanistan and Pakistan are distinctly different countries and cannot be lumped together for any reason," Zardari, who completed one year in office on Wednesday, told 'The Financial Times'.
US President Barack Obama has appointed Richard Holbroke, a senior diplomat who helped end the Bosnian war, as his special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan in a move intended to address the two states as a single arena of conflict.
Zardari's comments reflect Pakistan's unwillingness to be aligned in a joint policy framework with neighbouring Afghanistan, an approach referred to as 'AfPak'.
The Pakistani leader and his senior officials draw a distinction between Pakistan with functioning institutions, diversified economy and a powerful national army, and Afghanistan, a state shattered by decades of conflict and ethnic divisions.
Zardari said Holbrooke had brought a "unique focus on relations with Pakistan" and acknowledged the emphasis that Obama had put on Pakistan's economic and energy needs.