ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari said fight against terrorism is a long struggle with complex challenges requiring a multi?pronged approach combining political, military and development tracks. In an interview with a foreign newspaper Saudi Gazette, he said, “Our view is recognized by our partners. The forum of Friends of Democratic Pakistan is a response of the international community to support Pakistan in meeting these formidable challenges.”
In order to effectively fight terrorism, he said, a special joint meeting of parliament was convened recently, which adopted unanimously a 14?point resolution on the issue bringing the nation together.
“We have also made it clear that incursions inside Pakistani territory by foreign forces is not acceptable. It only undermines the fight against militancy,” he added.
He called Pakistan?Saudi Arabia relations unique and of exemplary nature, as clearly manifested by the frequency of high?level visits exchanged between the two states.
The President said the leadership from both sides have had unanimity on all bilateral, regional and international issues.
This is further reflected in the presence of an over one?million?strong Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia who are contributing towards the progress of the Kingdom and adding to the strength of our mutual friendship, he added.
The President said the multi?faceted cooperation between the two countries is firmly based on institutional linkages and strong trade and commercial ties. Saudi companies have made significant investments in Pakistan in diverse fields. Our bilateral trade currently stands at around $ 5.7 billion.
He recalled that Saudi Arabia always provided assistance to Pakistan in difficult times.
“The generous relief assistance extended by the Saudi Government to the victims of the devastating earthquake will remain etched in our memories. The Saudi Fund for Development has been playing an important role in financing various uplift projects in Pakistan,” he remarked.
Recently, the Board of Investment, in collaboration with the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Council of Saudi Chambers, held two Investment Conferences in Riyadh and Jeddah.
The conferences were a big success, attended by around 360 traders and industrialists from both sides.
Zardari said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are fully cognisant of the need to cooperate in the fields of security and combating terrorism.
An agreement on cooperation in combating crimes is in the final phases and is expected to be signed shortly, he informed.
He said Pakistan, being part of the global community is also passing through an economic crisis and has devised an indigenous economic stabilization plan to re?invent its internal economy.
In this effort, Pakistan is supported through a series of negotiations by various world economic bodies, he explained.
He said, “We are also interacting with the Friends of Pakistan group in a bid to restore our economy to a stable position whereby our people get consequential relief. Getting aid from the IMF is our last option.”
To a question about recent US?India nuclear deal, he said, “We have asked for a level playing field by evolving an objective, non?discriminatory and criteria?based approach for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
He said this is important for preventing an arms race and also for the credibility of international non?proliferation regime.
He assured that notwithstanding the grave implications of the discriminatory agreement, Pakistan would continue to act with responsibility and would not enter into an arms race.
“However, we will neither be oblivious to our security requirements nor to the needs of our economic development,” the President added.
To a question, Zardari said Pakistan and China are old and good friends whose friendship is ‘all?weather’ and ‘time?tested.’ These relations enjoy a permanence and strength as they are rooted in the minds and hearts of our people. In Pakistan, the Chinese people will always have a trusted and steadfast friend.
He said Pakistan looks forward to improving relations with India and is happy to see the progress made in the ongoing peace process.
As for the Kashmir issue, the present democratic government remains committed to a just and peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, he added.
Zardari said Pakistan is committed to combating terrorism and extremism in its own national interest and Pakistan and the US have close counter?terrorism cooperation.
Discussing the internal political situation, he said he was sure that since the PPP and the PML?N had come together after a great struggle for democracy and, having learnt a lot from their past mistakes, better counsel would definitely prevail while resolving all the issues.
To a question, the President said, “We had agreed in the Charter of Democracy that the defense budget would be placed in parliament. Honouring this commitment, we presented the defense budget in parliament for the first time this year.”
Likewise, we had agreed in the CoD that the all important Public Accounts Committee of parliament, which served as watchdog over the government would be headed by an MP of the opposition.
Honouring this commitment, an opposition MP has been made the chairman of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
He said as far as the future of the former president Pervez Musharraf is concerned, it will be decided by the parliament.
“However, let me also add that we do not believe in taking revenge. We believe that democracy is the best revenge,” he added