Zardari cites past 'mistakes' for 'militants' rise

Zardari cites past 'mistakes' for 'militants' rise

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari delivers a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on Friday. AP

"We are passing through difficult times," he said, adding that bold decisions were needed to tackle a "crisis in waiting".

He stressed that militants and militancy in Pakistan were not created in a vacuum and blamed "mistakes" of the past for the emergence and encouragement of religious extremism.

"Sadly, what we are witnessing today is the outcome of that policy of the 80's and even earlier. The policy of using religious extremism as an instrument of war," said Zardari.
In his view, the mistakes of the past included leaving Afghanistan "at the mercy of the warlords" and Western support for "dictatorships" in Pakistan.

"Years of dancing with the dictators has encouraged the crisis of today," said Zardari.
However, democracy in Pakistan had "taken the challenge head on" and achieved "considerable successes" over the past year.

"Democracy has united the nation against terrorists. This is a great example of democracy at work."

The effort would not be allowed to fail, said Zardari, adding that his government was also "determined not to allow anyone to use our territory against a third country".

He urged the international community to reinforce its support for Pakistan's efforts to re-establish stability and advance economic growth.

"We have taken most difficult and politically unpopular decisions to stabilize the economy. We need trade, not aid," said Zardari.

In order to "create expanded economic opportunities for the teeming millions" it was important that Pakistan should be allowed market access to the countries of the European Union, he said.