Zardari 'disenchanted' with India's post-Mumbai handling

Last Updated 29 May 2010, 13:27 IST

"I'm a little disenchanted with India. I expected the largest democracy in the world to behave much more maturely. We are facing a threat on the eastern and western borders," Zardari said in an interview with Newsweek magazine.

"This new-age terror has created a phenomenon where a few people can take entire states to war. The fact that these people happen to belong to Pakistan or India or Bangladesh is immaterial. They are non-state actors, and states should behave like states," he said.

Zardari was responding to a question on what would happen next between the two countries following Pakistan's reported demand for the extradition of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani attacker sentenced to death by an Indian court for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

However, diplomatic sources said that Pakistan has not formally demanded the extradition of Kasab.

A request has been made for access to Kasab or to the Indian magistrates and police official who recorded his confession to facilitate the trial of seven suspects in Pakistan, the sources said.

Asked if he had become a hawk on India, Zardari replied: "I can never be a hawk. I'm a liberal by nature and democrat by principles. War is never an option, as far as I’m concerned."

Replying to a question about the intense US reaction to the botched car bomb attack in New York by Pakistani- American Faisal Shahzad, the President said: "I don't think you should pay much heed to the rumour mills in Washington or Islamabad. Shahzad, although of Pakistani origin, is an American national. There is no cure for badness. But the cooperation with the US is good."

Zardari also indicated that Pakistan would act on its own in deciding about launching a military operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan tribal agency.
Pakistan has been under pressure from the US to move troops into the region since the arrest of Shahzad as American investigators believe he received bomb-making training there.

"One works with one's own game plan. We are fighting to save Pakistan. So we're working on it with a map in our hand. I was in America when the Taliban took Buner (in northwest Pakistan in April 2009), and the press took me to town. I told them we'll handle it, and we did," he said.

Zardari said Pakistani authorities would like to know who is financing the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban.

"We haven't got any closer to knowing that," he said.

Replying to a question about US attitude to Pakistan improving economic ties with Iran, Zardari said: "There is no pressure from America to not pursue opportunities. You must have heard that Iran is willing to give us electricity... We are looking forward to trading with all our neighbours. Nobody can put pressure on Pakistan for anything. We do what is in Pakistan’s interest."

Zardari, who is facing pressure over the Supreme Court's efforts to reopen graft cases against him in Switzerland, said there is no danger to the government led by his Pakistan People's Party.

"I think all the political forces sitting today in parliament have reinvented ourselves. The 18th Amendment (to the Constitution) is a reflection of the great maturity, I feel, democratic forces in Pakistan have achieved. But then, of course, we are all still politicians. I'm an optimist to the core, and I don't think the government and parliament are in any danger."

Asked to list his diplomatic successes, Zardari referred to the creation of an "appetite in the world to look at the case of Pakistan from our eyes".

This included a "locally evolved IMF package, extended aid to Pakistan and new strategic dialogue with the US", he said.

However, he acknowledged that criticism by the Pakistani press had hampered the government's work "in the sense that the capacity and time to deliver, to do more work for the country, get consumed elsewhere".

"If you do a needs assessment for the population and then take responsibility, lots of issues will look frivolous. Look at the bigger picture, like the war on terror, which tells you that the state is under threat," he said

(Published 29 May 2010, 13:27 IST)

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