Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told senior U.S. envoys, now on a two-day visit to that country, that Islamabad needed unconditional support to defeat Taliban and al-Qaida elements in the country's lawless northwest bordering Afghanistan, reports say.
The plea came in a statement released by the president's office Tuesday, a day after he met with Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 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.
Islamabad is committed to eliminating extremism from its polity and society, for which it needed unconditional support by the international community in education, health, training and provision of equipment for fighting terrorism, Zardari said in a statement, adding that military action was only one aspect of the solution.
Washington has pledged to provide the terrorist-infested nation with about USD 7.5 bn in economic aid over the next five years to tackle the alarming violence along its border with Afghanistan.
However, the aid bill passed by the U.S. Congress requires the White House to certify that Islamabad was tackling terrorism and its notorious intelligence services, notably the ISI, are not aiding armed groups in the country's northwest.
Last month, Adm. Mullen said that there were indications that elements within Pakistan's intelligence agencies were supporting fighters both on its borders with Afghanistan and India.
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