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US-Pakistan drift needs to end to defeat terrorism: Zardari

DUBAI, 10 JUNE, (DNA) – Former President Asif Ali Zardari has said that in order to defeat terrorism the US-Pakistan drift needs to be ended.

In an article published on the editorial page of Chicago Tribune, Asif Zardari has wrote that he can challenge those US Congressmen who doubt the intentions of Pakistan.

“I would challenge any faction in Congress that holds this view to come to Pakistan and bear witness to our solidarity and resolve. Pakistan continues to suffer mass-casualty attacks by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, including at the Army Public School in Peshawar, at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, in Quetta, and most recently in Lahore, where 74 were killed and more than 300 injured,” he wrote.

“Doubters should know that Pakistan has lost nearly 500 troops and many thousands of civilians in this fight. These losses were sustained in offensives against terrorist networks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas — a longtime U.S. priority,” he added.

Asif Ali Zardari also lauded the successful operations of armed forces and the sacrifices rendered by them.

“As a direct result of these offensives, Pakistan has rooted out extremists’ safe havens, played a critical role in dismantling Al-Qaeda’s deeply entrenched networks and seized more than 160 tons of improvised explosive device precursors. As grievous as our losses have been, the past year has seen the lowest number of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings since 2007,” he said.

He went on to explain the war against terrorism has not only cost them human lives but has also taken the country towards economic crisis.

“In addition to the severe human costs, three decades of war has also meant slower economic growth and foreign direct investment than that of other developing countries whose borders are not active war zones. These are among the hidden opportunity costs of our commitment to fighting terrorism,” wrote Zardari.

While penning down about US refusal to provide F-16 jets to Pakistan, he said that denying Pakistan aircraft that the military deems necessary for continuing offensives against a terrorist network is ultimately counterproductive and self-defeating.

He said that history has made it clear that the U.S. and Pakistan are far stronger as allies, and that the world has benefited greatly from this partnership.

In a concluding statement, Zardari urged US to play its role alongwith Pakistan in combating terrorism and also fulfill its promise of F-16 sale.

“Pakistan is ready and willing to continue its role at the front lines of the war against terrorism. But the U.S. has a part to play in assuring our ability to fight and win on the battlefield. As talks between a delegation of top U.S. diplomats and the Pakistani government continue, the U.S. should reaffirm fighter plane sales and with it, faith in an indispensable partnership in defense of civilization,” he said. =DNA

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