President Asif Ali Zardari today welcomed his US counterpart Barack Obama's initiatives to strengthen democracy in Pakistan and his call to the Congress to pass a bill for $1.5 billion in aid for the country.
Zardari said Pakistan has always held its relations with the US in "high esteem" and Obama's announcements during his speech on the new American strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will further cement the ties between the two countries.
He said the creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in Pakistan's tribal areas with US help will create an enabling environment for the people there, who have been distressed by terrorism and extremism for a long time.
Zardari said Pakistan had always maintained that terrorism cannot be overcome "without going into the root cause" of the menace and this is only possible by providing the people in the tribal areas with employment opportunities.
He said Pakistan, which is at the forefront of the war against terror, lost its leader Benazir Bhutto at the hands of terrorists. "No one knows better than us the importance of a society which is free from terrorism and extremism as Pakistanis have suffered immensely at the hands of extremist elements," he said.
Zardari said his country always wants to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours on the basis of equality, non-interference and respect for sovereignty.