The US president while talking about the issue of militancy avoided using the terms “war on terror” in a meeting before Presidents George W. Bush and president Asif Ali Zardari attended the United Nations General Assembly. Both leaders were comfortable in each others presence and they focussed on joint efforts to fight insurgency in Fata.
In meeting Mr. Bush said while addressing the Pakistani president sitting next to him:
“Your words have been very strong about Pakistan’s sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help.”
He prefered to stress US economic assistance to Pakistan, offering to “help spread prosperity” instead of Asif Ali Zaradri’s concerns on war on terror.
“Pakistan is an ally, and I look forward to deepening our relationship. We’ll be discussing, of course, how to help spread prosperity. We want our friends around the world to be making a good living. We want there to be economic prosperity and we can work together, and of course we’ll be talking about security.”
“I know that your heart went out to the families of those who suffer and so does the collective heart of the American people,” said Mr Bush while turning towards Mr Zardari. “We stand with you. Bush also expressed to Zardari his condolences for the victims of the truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
President Zardari’s response to Mr Bush’s remarks was brief and formal but he was generous in praising the US leader’s continued support for Pakistan.
“As always, you prove to the world that your heart is in there for us Pakistanis,” he said. “We respect your feelings, we respect the American ideals. And we bring to this the whole concept of your promise to the world of bringing democracy to Pakistan.”
Zardari acknowledged generally that Pakistan had problems but said it would confront them.
Democracy, he said, had “come full circle” in Pakistan with the help of all the friends around the world and the Pakistani nation was thankful to the world for this help. “Democracy is the answer. We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We’ve got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion,” said President Zardari. “That’s what my wife’s legacy is all about. That’s what democracy is all about.”
Democracy, he said, was about taking difficult decisions and doing the right thing for the people of Pakistan and to ‘our two great nations’. “We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world.”
Mr Bush also noted Mr Zardari’s concerns at the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by US forces but made no commitment.