President Zardari has contributed a piece to today’s New York Times in which he analyzes the roots of the current situation of extremism in Pakistan and what must be done to resolve the conflict.
The President delved into the past and offered the Pakistani perspective of the war on terrorism. Lamenting the 1980s as having created a “Kalashnikov and heroin society” in the country, President Zardari argues the abandonment of the region by American forces after the Soviets’ defeat further solidified an environment in which extremism was unchallenged and allowed to grow at an alarming rate. That has led to the current horror, he writes. And it is a horror the people of Pakistan have come to know very well.
President Zardari takes the bold step of answering American accusations that Pakistanis just do not like the US.
The fact is, Pakistanis see the US-Pak relationship as a historically transactional one. Support of martial law, abandonment in the 1990s, and most recently, following the horrific events of 9/11, the US supported the Musharraf regime, though it did nothing for democracy in Pakistan.
Be that as it may, it is time to begin a new era of relations between the two nations.
In unequivocal terms, President Zardari pledges his full commitment to ending extremism in Pakistan. “The free world stands with President Obama in the effort to defeat the extremism that threatens us all. Pakistanis are on the frontlines in this battle.”
The President’s article comes after one of the worst weeks in Pakistan’s history. He is correct in noting no other nation has paid such a heavy price in bloodshed and lives lost.
Though Pakistan has done much, and is grateful for the US’ assistance, there remains a need for continued assistance from a new friend and partner.