Afghan war affecting Pakistan: Zardari

April 11th, 2011 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez Musharraf Islamabad, April 11 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has criticised US politicians, saying they fail to understand that the war on terror in Afghanistan affects the entire region.

Zardari told The Guardian in an interview that after a decade of military rule under Pervez Musharraf, the Afghan war was destabilising Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore the country’s democratic institutions and economic prosperity.

“Just as the Mexican drug war on US borders makes a difference to Texas and American society, we are talking about a war on our border which is obviously having a huge effect. I think it (the Afghan war) has an effect on the entire region, and specially our country,” Zardari said.

“Democracy is evolving. It’s a new democracy. It takes time to bring institutions back. Destroying institutions during a decade of dictatorial regime is easy … So there is a political impact as well as an economic impact.”

One being asked about the US’ criticism of Pakistan’s co-operation in the war on terror, Zardari said Pakistan has always listened to Washington’s views.

But some members of the Congress and the American media did not know what they were talking about when it came to Pakistan.

“The United States has been an ally of Pakistan for the last 60 years. We respect and appreciate their political system. So every time a new parliament comes in, new boys come in, new representatives come in, it takes them time to understand the international situation. Not Obama, but the Congress, interest groups and the media get affected by ‘deadline-itis’ (over ending the Afghan war),” he said.

“I think it is maybe 12 years since America has become engaged in Afghanistan and obviously everybody’s patience is on edge, especially the American public, which is looking for answers. There are no short-term answers and it is very difficult to make the American taxpayer understand.”

A White House report had said that after years of US funding of the Pakistani military, “there remains no clear path towards defeating the insurgency” inside Pakistan.

Zardari said Pakistan had been in a state of “security alert” for several decades, adding that the country needs commerce for its survival.

“We have all the gas in the world waiting to go through to markets in India and the Red Sea but it cannot be brought in until Afghanistan is settled. So Afghanistan is a growth issue for us. I think most of the time, the quantification of the effect of the war is not calculated (by the US).”

According to intelligence officials, the war on terror has cost Pakistan approximately $68 billion since 2001.

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