NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari forcefully projected Pakistanâ€™s position on global issues and unveiled his vision in a series of meetings with top world leaders on the margins of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The President, who spoke of the grave challenges confronting Pakistan, said the new democratic government was committed to bringing about a seachange in all facets of governance, strengthening of state institutions and fully empowering the parliament.
During his six-day stay in New York President Asif Ali Zardari held important meetings with President George W Bush, President Nicholas Sarkozi of France, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kumar Dahal Prachanda.
The Information Minister described his meetings with President Bush, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Karzai as most important adding the country made significant progress in bilateral ties with these countries. The two sides agreed to further the peace process and open up trade through four points.
In his maiden address to the United Nations, the President sought international communityâ€™s moral, political and economic support to help fight terrorism, saying the security of the world lay in Pakistanâ€™s stability. He also called for adopting a multi-faceted approach and socio-economic uplift to tackle the issue of terrorism head-on.
The President reiterated these views through an opinion piece in the Boston Globe. â€œWe must fight this epic battle together as allies and as partners. But just as we will not let our territory be used by terrorism for attacks on our people and neighbours, we cannot allow our territory and sovereignty to be violated by friends,â€ he wrote.
The White House in return said it respects Pakistanâ€™s democracy and sovereignty. The President also warned against any unilateral actions against Pakistan, saying such acts can inflame the passions. â€œViolating our nationâ€™s sovereignty is not helpful in eliminating the terrorist menace. Indeed, this could have the opposite effect,â€ he said. The President also spoke of the heavy casualties that the country suffered in the ongoing war against terrorism.
The President also succeeded in getting the support from the World Bank following is meeting with President Robert Zoellick. He assured President Zardari of the financial institution commitment to Pakistanâ€™s development and informed him that $ 1.337 billion new programmes were in pipeline for the current year.
These programmes include investments in energy, water, infrastructure besides support for development in FATA as well as pro-poor programmes in Pakistan. On Kashmir he said Pakistan completely shares the sentiments of the Kashmiri people and stands by their struggle for legitimate right of self-determination. He also spoke of the need of resolving the issue bilaterally for bringing lasting peace to the region.
Another major success of the visit was the the Friends of Pakistan (FoP) initiatve in which Pakistan was assured support in its fight against terrorism and well-coordinated international cooperation to help the country face the formidable challenges it was facing.
The Group comprising representatives from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Turkey, representatives of the European Union and the United Nations under the chairmanship of President Zardari and Foreign Ministers of United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States vowed to work in strategic partnership with the Pakistan and other partners in areas of stability, development, border areas, energy and institution-building.
The Friends of Pakistan (FOP) initiative reflects the belief of major power centers that Pakistanâ€™s political stability and development were essential for global security. The group also made clear their determination to support the government in its efforts to consolidate democracy and to enable the people to benefit from this historic opportunity.
The President also had meetings with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madalene Albright, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, philanthropist George Soros.
President Zardari also unveiled the Bhutto Doctrine of Reconciliation and described it as an ultimate solution to bring in an era of peace and cooperation between East and West, avoid clash of civilizations and religions.
He said the doctrine focuses on the dual mission to combat dictatorship and terrorism, while promoting social and economic reform and justice for the people of Pakistan. President Zardari also described the Doctrine as the new centuryâ€™s equivalent of the Marshall Plan that saved Europe after World War II. â€œBhutto Doctrineâ€™s pillar is that of an economically viable Pakistan that will be the centerpiece of the victory of pluralism over terrorism.â€
Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Biden had a telephonic talk with President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed US-Pakistan relations including his commitment to socio-economic development of the Pakistani people. Biden is architect of landmark legislation pending before Congress on enhancing socio-economic assistance for Pakistan to $ 1.5 billion annually over a period of ten years.
Input from Agencies