With the Taliban intensifying its attacks in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari told top American officials Monday his country was fighting terrorism for its own survival and would not succumb to pressure by militants, reports say.
Richard Holbrooke, special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as also Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to Islamabad Monday for talks on a new policy unveiled by President Barack Obama nine days ago and a recent surge of militancy and extremism in the region.
It is the first top-level U.S. visit since President Obama put Islamabad at the heart of the fight against al-Qaida, unveiling a new course of action to commit thousands of more troops and billions of dollars to prosecute the Afghan war.
Pakistan is fighting a battle for its own survival, a statement issued by the presidency quoted Zardari as having told Holbrooke and Mullen during a meeting late Monday. The President said the government would not succumb to any pressure by militants, it added.
However, Zardari called for a dialogue with those who laid down their arms and respected state authority. He also emphasized the need to accelerate development of the impoverished tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He added the government was pursuing the three Ds (dialogue, development and deterrence) policy to tackle terror.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quresh participated in the talks with the two visiting American dignitaries, who flew into Islamabad following two days of discussions in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Pakistani side is expected to take up the issue of predator strikes in the country's lawless northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Islamabad says the strikes, around 37 of which have killed over 360 persons since last August, violate its sovereignty and deepen resentment against the government and the United States among its 160 million citizens.
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