Pakistan admires Turkey’s democratic consolidation, economic achievements: Zardari

ANKARA: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday Pakistan admired Turkey’s progress in democratic consolidation and economic achievements and its positive role in resolving regional issues. “The maturity of Turkish democracy and its economic achievements are greatly admired in Pakistan,” said President Zardari in an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman.“Turkey has emerged as a major power in the region. Being part of Asia and Europe, it serves as a bridge between East and West,” he added.Zardari also praised Turkey’s initiative in recent years and acknowledged the role Turkey played in international and regional forums.“We appreciate Turkey’s positive role and initiatives for resolving regional issues. Turkey’s stance in forums like the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), G-20, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) is indeed worth appreciation,” he stated.Stressing that his country was left to deal with problems emanating from the Cold War era, the President said they have paid a hefty price in the form of drug trafficking and weapons culture.

He made it clear during the interview that Pakistan’s cooperation and gathering of intelligence foiled several global terrorism plots. “The forces of extremism and terrorism pose a threat to our own security. We remain determined and resolute to defeat them,” he emphasized.Calling terrorism “a curse” with “no faith or creed,” Zardari underscored that terrorism was a global problem and, as such, it required a global response. “It is a toxic brew that thrives on a perceived sense of injustice, economic deprivation and marginalization. Today, many countries around the world are facing this menace,” he explained.The President dismissed claims that his country had no clear strategy to deal with terrorism. Noting that there was a national consensus on how to counter terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, Zardari explained what he called the “3 Ds” strategy—Dialogue, Development, and Deterrence—to fight terrorism.“We have offered dialogue and amnesty to all those who renounce violence. We have undertaken development projects and are building more schools, hospitals and roads in the relatively underdeveloped and affected areas. At the same time, our armed forces and law enforcement agencies, backed by popular support and democratic legitimacy, are fighting hardcore terrorists and extremists,” he said.

As for relations with India, Zardari said he believed dialogue was the only way to normalize ties with the neighbouring country, stressing that Pakistan was committed to a “serious, sustained and constructive engagement with India.”“The two countries have decided to resume dialogue on all outstanding issues,” he said, adding: “It is important for the two sides to build an atmosphere of mutual trust to resolve all our disputes, including the core Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. This would usher in a new era for the people of South Asia and bring much needed peace and stability to our region.”President Zardari said Turkey has emerged as a major power in the region. Being part of Asia and Europe, it serves as a bridge between East and West. Ataturk’s vision of “Peace at home, peace in the world” and the present government’s “zero problems with neighbours” policy has turned foes into friends, he added.

He said one has to understand the regional and international dynamics of the Cold War which led to the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and the resultant birth of Afghan Jihad.“During this period Pakistan as a front-line state paid a heavy price in the shaping of a drug and weapons culture. We were also host to over 4 million Afghan refugees. After the success in this campaign the West left Afghanistan, abandoning it completely to its fate.”He said this situation created a vacuum which prompted Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers to redirect the Jihadi groups against the West, and 9/11 was the product of that phase. The post-9/11 situation in Afghanistan made Pakistan once again a front-line state against terrorism.The challenges confronted by Pakistan arising out of the historical evolution of Afghanistan crises need to be understood and appreciated by the international community, the President said and added, Today, Pakistan’s security forces have suffered more casualties than the NATO forces combined in Afghanistan. APP