Zardari says Benazir’s assassins can target him
WASHINGTON: President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday said those who had assassinated his wife former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto could also target him. In an interview with CNN, Zardari said he had no knowledge regarding Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistani territory.
"If I did know, he wouldn't be there," he said, adding the al-Qaeda chief would be brought to justice. "I will go around with my friends and see what they want. If they want them (bin-Laden and his operatives) tried in Pakistan we will try them in Pakistan, if they want them tried in New York, sure so be it."
The president ruled out the possibility of war between Pakistan and the US, saying, "Friendly fire is a normal thing even among US soldiers."
The president firmly opposed any unilateral action into Pakistani territory by the US forces making it clear that Pakistani forces themselves would do the job. "If there is actionable intelligence of that high priority, share it with us, we will do the job," President Zardari said. He said that all government institutions were united in fighting terrorism. He urged the United States to step up intelligence cooperation with Islamabad to pursue terrorists that may be hiding on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. The president said he commanded control over all security and intelligence organizations.
To a question, he said the exact whereabouts of al-Qaeda Chief Osama bin Laden were not known, stating anybody believing he is on the Pakistani side of the border should share information with the country.
Commenting on US presidential candidate's remarks in election campaigns on the strategy to take out any top al-Qaeda operatives hiding on the Pakistani side, Zardari argued that the country's forces would do the job better. He pointed out that the candidates supporting unilateral actions qualify their remarks with certain stipulations like if Pakistan is unwilling to go after them.
Regarding an incident last week in which the two Afghanistan-based US helicopters reportedly came under Pakistani forces' firing, he said the security forces only fired flares in their direction to caution that they had crossed the Afghan border into Pakistani territory. "I think there was a flare directed at them, not a fire directed at them. The first flare was fired, and they realized that they had crossed over and went back."
Asked whether there was any chance of encounter between the US and Pakistani troops he said, "I won't be worried about that. There has always been friendly fire even in your wars, there is friendly fire and sometimes you get your own, so I would not be worried about it, I would be concerned if something like that happened."
On the Marriott blast, the president confirmed that the government had thought of holding a dinner at the Marriott Hotel last weekend at the time when a massive bombing killed more than 50 but added the plan was changed three days before. "We got it changed about three days earlier, but you know these guys hunt like wolf packs so obviously the information did not get to them. We were supposed to have dinner there that night. The speaker had actually booked the place and asked for the rates, but than we changed our minds and had it at the Prime Minister's house where we all were sitting including the prime minister, Gen Kayani, the chief ministers. Excluding the Punjab chief minister, everybody was there."
He said there was no prior information about the bombing plot. Zardari said the government is "still investigating, it is too early (to identify the perpetrators), but obviously it is people who do not want democracy to flourish in Pakistan." The president agreed that the Marriott bombing did have the "finger-marks and hallmarks of an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization."
Zardari urges US on intelligence cooperation
NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview Sunday that all government institutions are united in fighting terrorism and urged the United States to step up intelligence cooperation with Islamabad to pursue any terrorists that may be hiding on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.
He reiterated Pakistan’s firm opposition to unilateral action into its territory by Afghanistan-based US forces, saying the Pakistani forces will do the job better.
“If there is actionable intelligence of that high priority, share with us, we will do the job,” he said in the interview aired as he prepared to depart for Pakistan after attending the UN General Assembly.
The President said he commands control over all security and intelligence
organizations. ”Definitely, absolutely,” he said of all government institutions being on the same page as far as the US and the fight against terrorism are concerned.
The fight against terrorism, he underscored, is Pakistan’s fight. Commenting on US presidential candidate’s remarks in election campaigns on the strategy to take out any top al-Qaeda operatives hiding on the Pakistani side, Zardari argued that the country’s forces would do the job better.
He pointed out that the candidates favouring unilateral actions qualify their remarks with certain stipulations like if Pakistan is unwilling to go after them.
“But in this case, the Pakistani authorities and the president of Pakistan is more than willing.”
In answer to a question, he said the exact whereabouts of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden are not known, stating that anybody believing he is on the Pakistani side of the border should share information with the country.
Zardari denies Pakistan fired at US helicopters
NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the world is a "safer place" because of President George Bush's leadership, adding, "It could have been much worse."
In an interview published by the Washington Post on Saturday, Zardari warned, "The axis of evil is growing, but did not specify who constituted that "axis."
He denied that Pakistan had fired at two US helicopters that had strayed into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan, saying that only warning flares had been fired, contradicting what Admiral Michael Mullen alleged.
President Zardari said Pakistan has the opportunity to "do the job" and has the "right credentials" and so has he, having been through a "tough life" that has prepared him "to become even tougher."
He added Pakistan is playing vital role on war against terrorism, adding terrorists were being handled in a right way. Pakistan is taking effective action against militants, said
The president further said nobody would be allowed to violate Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty, adding it was sole authority of Pakistani army to take any action in this regard.
Responding to a question, he said US should extend more intelligence assistance to Pakistan to combat extremism in the country.
World stands behind Pakistan
Friends of Pakistan forum pledges overwhelming support; US asks Islamabad to stick to economic reforms.
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
UNITED NATIONS: Major world powers on Friday pledged to assist the Pakistani democratic government in its efforts to overcome economic and security challenges, standing behind it at the launch of the new "Friends of Pakistan" Forum.
Saudi Arabia was conspicuous by its absence.
The United States has asked Pakistan to adhere to economic reforms for making early recovery in the economic arena.
US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice said this in response to a question immediately after the meeting of the Friends of Pakistan Forum.
"We've had a very constructive meeting today," President Asif Ali Zardari said in his post-meeting comments with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the UAE foreign minister expressing full support to the elected government's endeavours to deal with economic challenges.
The initiative would be institutionalised with top representatives from the influential capitals slated to meet again in Abu Dhabi next month to give concrete shape to the assistance pledges to help the country pull out of the economic morass.
Zardari said the overwhelming expression of support for Pakistan reflected that "the world cares for Pakistan and the people of Pakistan can rest assured that democracy does work and it is the success and victory of democratic Pakistan that we are standing before you." He was of the view that the US support was a blessing for Pakistan.
"There is a very strong support of the international community for Pakistan's democratically-elected government. We know Pakistan has many challenges in the security and economy fields," said Secretary Rice, standing alongside the new Pakistani leader.
The international community will be by the side of the young democracy as "it takes difficult decisions to move towards a more stable and prosperous Pakistan," she added.
Washington, she said, is engaged with Pakistan through financial institutions to help it implement economic reforms. "All of us are working very closely with the international financial institutions to make certain that there is support for Pakistan."
President Zardari, when asked about his government's stance towards the United States, said he looked at the support by the US and the world at this critical moment for the country as a blessing.
"Pakistan is a country which has lot of potential. We are 180 million strong and willing to work hard. The support I am looking for is how to help myself. I am not asking them to give me fish, I am going to learn how to fish and make my people fish themselves."
The president said whenever the leaders of Pakistan and the US met, they discussed the weaknesses in relationship and tried to convert those into strength. "All weaknesses have to be looked at and if there are any weaknesses, definitely we will talk about them."
Foreign Minister of the UAE Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan described the meeting very constructive and said the UAE had always been a very close ally and friend of Pakistan.
"But we want to further our relationship with Pakistan to assure our Pakistani brothers and friends of our commitment and support."
Emotional support pledged to Pakistan
By our correspondent
NEW YORK: Pakistan and its President Asif Ali Zardari received an emotional response from all the key developed countries who gathered under the banner of Friends of Pakistan at the UN on Friday, each promising to come forward with economic, political and moral support within days and weeks.
Although, no dollar figures were immediately committed, foreign ministers and senior diplomats of the US, the UK, Italy, the UAE, Canada, Australia, France, the EU, Turkey, China, Japan and the UN, all promised to start bilateral negotiations with Islamabad immediately and to report back to the group next month in Abu Dhabi, as the conference was co-hosted by the UAE and Pakistan.
Briefing the media after the conference, President Zardari said it was a blessing for his country while the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and the UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said there was consensus to help Pakistan.
Participants of the meeting, which went on for one hour at the UN Headquarters, reported that the sentiment was almost emotional as there was an outpouring of support.
"Almost every foreign minister condoled with President Zardari on Benazir Bhutto's death and praised his courage and commitment," one participant said.
The Australian foreign minister said his country was amazed that after Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Pakistan was still able to continue on the democratic path and establish an elected government.
The Italian foreign minister asked why the World Bank was not immediately releasing $500 million aid to Pakistan that was in the pipeline.
The sentiment was that Pakistan must be helped both in the short term and the long term, economically, politically and morally, as Pakistan had sacrificed a lot in the war on terror.
President Zardari told the meeting that a democratic Pakistan would provide security and stability in the region and would be a major player for regional peace.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the group should not be named as the Friends of Pakistan but as the Friends of a Democratic Pakistan. Almost, all speakers in the conference followed her lead.
The German foreign minister told the meeting a delegation from Germany would go to Pakistan very soon as his leaders had already talked to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
There was a consensus that the membership of the group should be expanded and President Zardari said in so many words that if India wanted to join, it would be welcomed by Pakistan.
Pakistanis claim Bush is now off their back
Change in US attitude leads to WB $2.3bn aid
By Shaheen Sehbai
YORK: Despite the growing tensions in the rugged Fata
battlefields between the US and Pakistani armies,
diplomats and politicians of the two countries in New
York's tall plazas are close to reaching a wider
understanding on some highly sensitive issues, including
the key question of how to neutralise the militant
Jihadi outfits hitherto protected by the secret
establishment in Pakistan.
"There have been detailed discussions on the
mechanics of what needs to be done in this regard,"
officials close to the negotiations admit.
The talks with President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and US
military generals were focussed on how Jihadi Lashkars
thriving in Pakistan with their leaders, including ex-Lashkar
Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Jaish Mohammad leader
Maulana Azhar Masood and their likes, could be put out
The Pakistani side understands the US concerns but since the PPP leadership is new and is still trying to get full civilian control over the secret agencies and their sponsors in the civil and military establishment, a perception of not being able to deliver on key issues has developed, insiders say.
Although, President Asif Zardari is in New York for the UN General Assembly, his talks with the US officials have assumed a far greater significance as there appear to be serious negotiations going on to defuse the tensions on the Pak-Afghan border and to remove the US apprehensions about Pakistan's sincerity in dealing with the Jihadis.
Top US leaders are involved in several meetings of President Zardari and his team with Condoleezza Rice, Zalmay Khalilzad, US Army commanders and Pakistan's National Security Adviser Maj Gen Mahmood Durrani.
A diplomatic source claimed on Thursday night that Zardari's meetings with Bush and Condi Rice had largely released the pressure on Pakistan because the White House had been convinced that given time and space, the PPP leadership will
deliver on matters where General Musharraf and his team double crossed the Americans.
"Memos have been sent by the White House to all departments that Pakistanis are to be helped," the source claimed, saying the first manifestation of this change in the US attitude was a direct offer by the World Bank President to President Zardari to provide almost $2.3 billion as immediate help to ease its economic crisis, including the balance of payments situation.
This was in sharp contrast to the meeting of the same president of the World Bank with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a few weeks ago during his US visit in which he had nothing to offer but only criticism, the source said. The World
Bank, it is assumed by everyone, looks at the mood of the White House before making critical decisions and its mood suddenly appears to have changed, sources in the Pakisani camp claim.
Likewise, these sources are claiming that pressure on Pakistan from New Delhi and Kabul has also been largely released because of the Zardari meetings with PM Manmohan Singh and President Karzai.
With India, the composite dialogue is back on track and a three-month deadline has been agreed and announced to jump start all the tracks which were frozen during the Musharraf regime.
Likewise, agreement on opening trade routes will help boost Pakistan's trade and business sectors as Pakistani business community has been demanding for years that land trade routes should be opened, giving both importers and exporters
a tremendous cost advantage in greatly reduced shipping costs. Over 2,000 items will now be bought and sold via the ground route, saving millions in shipping costs.
With Afghanistan, Pakistani sources say, the special handling of Karzai by President Zardari has softened him and with key US mediators playing their role, Afghanistan is now ready to make honest efforts to reduce tensions with Pakistan.
An informed source said the US side had been insisting on offering the Pakistani military and paramilitary forces training in fighting the al-Qaeda terrorists and Pakistan had agreed to go along in the weeks and months to come.
There is a clear understanding in the Pakistani camp that if Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama wins the White House in November, a serious effort will be made to shift the Iraq war to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which may increase some of the existing tensions and problems.
But US experts in the Pakistani camp argue strongly that not much change would ultimately come as once Obama becomes the president and gets briefings by the Pentagon, CIA and others, he may (in fact one diplomat said he will) agree to continue the war in Iraq because these briefings would suggest that the US was winning the war in Iraq.
Pakistani sources admit that despite tremendous sacrifices and efforts made by Pakistan to support the US war on terror, the perception that Pakistan was a problem and not a solution was widespread in the US and this was a failure of Pakistani lobbyists and image managers.
A recent poll by a Chicago-based think tank, to be released soon, shows 57 per cent of Americans want Pakistan to be bombed and punished as it was not an ally of the US. This poll may cause a lot of embarrassment for the Bush administration.
But a Pakistani source argued that the same was the situation in Pakistan where more than 75 per cent of the people considered US as an enemy. "But governments do not run or formulate their policies based on public opinion polls," the source said.
President Zardari, in his UN General Assembly address, also mentioned the great amount of human losses that Pakistan had suffered, more than all the Nato countries combined but still doubts persisted about Pakistan's honesty and sincerity.
Most of these suspicions centre around the role of the secret Pakistani establishment, which supported a large part of the Jihadis' structures, despite telling the Americans to the contrary. It is this double role which is the cause of the suspicions and Pakistan is now trying to make its efforts more transparent so that what it says is also seen to be implemented on the ground.
Friends can’t be intruders:
Says Pakistan will never succumb to terrorism; deplores UN lethargy over Benazir murder probe; equates Benazir doctrine with Marshall plan
By our correspondent
UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has made it clear that it cannot allow its friends to violate its territory and its sovereignty as "attacks within Pakistan that violate our sovereignty actually serve to empower the forces which we fight together."
"We may be the target of international terrorism, but we will never succumb to it", said President Asif Ali Zardari in a confident tone while addressing the United Nations General Assembly's 63rd session here at the headquarters of the world body. He reminded the world: "We are not the cause of the problem of terrorism, we are its victims."
President Zardari in his maiden appearance at the world body pointed out that the government till today has no knowledge of the forces and institutions that plotted, planned, coordinated, trained and paid for the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto. "A UN investigation into the murder of their leader would reassure the people of Pakistan that the international community cares about them, that the UN's charter of justice is more than rhetoric. We owe it to her. We owe it to history", he said.
The president who spent more than 3/4th of his address remembering, paying tribute and discussing circumstances in which his wife Ms Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, was visibly emotional during his address. "I come before you today in the name of my late wife, Ms Benazir Bhutto, as a victim of terrorism representing a nation that is a victim of terrorism. I am a grieving husband, who has seen the mother of my children give her life fighting the menaces of terrorism and fanaticism that haunt the entire civilised world."
The president said that that vote for Ms Benazir Bhutto was an act of love and a demand for a democratic, moderate, modern, and tolerant and economically just Pakistan, the essence of the Bhutto doctrine. It has been eleven months since the first attack on my wife on October 18, 2007 was followed by a United Nations resolution calling for an inquiry in that crime against humanity. That UN resolution has so far been ineffective. After her assassination on December 27, the international community demanded an independent inquiry - a demand supported by resolutions in Pakistan's parliament and four provincial legislatures," he reminded.
"If the president of a country and his children cannot get justice through the United Nations, how would the poor and the dispossessed around the world find reassurance that the UN is capable of protecting the weak and the suffering?" he asked.
"In the name of humanity and in the name of justice, move forward quickly on the investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, so the people of Pakistan and the world will know for once and for all, whose bloody hands took away one of the greatest women of history."
For years she told world leaders that dictatorship fuels extremism and poverty fuels fanaticism. She outlined the Bhutto doctrine of reconciliation so brilliantly presented in her last book, a dual mission to combat dictatorship and terrorism, while promoting social and economic reforms and justice for the people of Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto understood that democracy was not an end, but a beginning: that a starving child has no human rights; that a father who could not support his family was someone ripe for extremism," he added.
President Zardari said that the Bhutto doctrine of reconciliation is a roadmap not only to a new Pakistan, but to a new era of peace and cooperation between East and West, between the people of all faiths; a roadmap that if followed will avoid the clash of civilisations and clash of religions that is the terrorists' ultimate goal.
He said that the Bhutto doctrine is the new century's equivalent of the Marshall Plan that saved Europe after World War II. And just as the Marshall Plan was centred on the principle that an economically sound Europe could and would resist communism, the Bhutto doctrine's pillar is that an economically viable Pakistan will be the centerpiece of the victory of pluralism over terrorism. The Bhutto doctrine will ultimately prove to be as critical to the victory of freedom in this century as the Marshall Plan was critical to the triumph of liberty in the last century.
Ours is the doctrine of reconciliation, theirs the doctrine of death. Her killers thought her elimination would end her dream of a democratic Pakistan and the balkanization of our region would enable the forces of darkness to prevail.
President Zardari warned that if al-Qaeda and the Taliban believed that by silencing Benazir Bhutto, they were silencing her message, they were totally wrong. We have picked up the torch and will fight against terrorists who attack us, and fight against terrorists who use our territory to plan attacks against our neighbours or anywhere in the world.
Referring to last Saturday’s attack on an Islamabad hotel, the president said that only last week, "the forces of evil struck again with a bloody and cowardly attack against my people. A suicide truck bomb destroyed a great building in our capital barely a stone's throw from my office and the house of parliament. Once again, Pakistan is the great victim in the war on terror. And once again our people wonder whether we stand-alone. Thousands of our soldiers and civilians have died fighting against the common enemies of humanity. We have lost more soldiers than all 37 countries that have forces in Afghanistan put together."
The president said that the roots of today's terrorism could be traced to a war involving the world's superpowers in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Afghanistan and Pakistan, and increasingly the world, are reaping the bitter harvest sowed towards the end of the cold war.
He regretted that the world turned its back on Afghanistan after the Soviet defeat. In Pakistan, we were left with three million refugees within our borders. Their camps soon became the breeding grounds for intolerance and violence. The West left South and Central Asia. We were left to live with the consequences. And one of its consequences was the birth of al-Qaeda and the Talibanisation of Afghanistan and parts of our tribal areas.
The president said we are victims but we will never be vanquished. On the contrary, the more of our children's blood they spill, the stronger is our determination to defeat them. "We in Pakistan stand united and in defiance. We are resolved that our future will not be dictated by these who defy the spirit and laws of Islam for their sordid political goals."
President Asif Zardari said: "the question I ask the world leaders in this august chamber is whether you will stand with us, just as we stand for the entire civilised world on the frontlines of this epic struggle of the new millennium?
"I stand before you as the president of a great nation that has suffered under a decade of brutal military dictatorship, human rights abuses, and the systematic destruction of the foundations of democracy and civil society. Sadly, all too often the world stood silent as dictators ruled our people with a bloody fist. Nations that were founded on democracy were silent for reasons of expediency. My wife would say that they "danced with dictators." Today, as we meet here in New York, the democratically elected leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, continues to be imprisoned in Yangon. She has suffered year after year under house arrest. The world should demand that this great woman finally be freed."
President Zardari said that the fight against extremism is a fight for the hearts and minds of people. "It cannot be won by guns and bombs alone. The fight must be multifaceted. The battleground must be economic and social as well as military. We will win when people are mobilised against the fanatics. To mobilise them we have to give them hope and opportunity for their future. They need jobs. Their children need education. They must be fed. They must have energy. We must give people a stake in their own government, and we must demonstrate to them that democracy does perform, that democratic governance can improve their everyday life."
The president said that an economically viable Pakistan would be a stable Pakistan. And a stable Pakistan will suck the oxygen from the terrorists' agenda. Economic justice and political democracy are the worst nightmares of the terrorists.
"We will work together with our neighbour Afghanistan, and the NATO forces stationed there, to ensure security of our common border. We will continue the composite dialogue with India so that our outstanding disputes are resolved. Whether it is the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, or cooperation on water resources, India and Pakistan must accommodate each other's concerns and interests," he said.
"But let it be clear to those in this hall, and to the terrorists lurking in their caves plotting their next assault on humanity. If necessary we will confront evil with force - our police, our army and our air force. We will turn the power of the state against the stateless terrorists. We will turn the power of justice against the chaos of anarchists. We will turn the power of right against the darkness of evil."
"It has not been as easy road. I spent nine years in prison, in solitary confinement, as a hostage to my wife's struggle for democracy and to our party's future. I was unjustly imprisoned under a judicial system manipulated and controlled by the forces of dictatorship. I refused to break under pressure. My years in prison made me a stronger person and hardened my resolve to fight for democracy and justice. Those years prepared me for this moment," President Zardari vowed.
"Terror took my wife's life. But the terrorists cannot kill my wife's dream. Her vision, her passion, her force is now our common task. The Benazir Bhutto doctrine of reconciliation lives on; it guides us in our endeavours. Her reconciliation is the mantra of the new era, and I am dedicated to implementing what she has proposed. I wish I could do it at my wife's side. But now I will do it in my wife's place. Pakistan will prove wrong all the negative predictions about its future. We will show the way in overcoming suspicions towards and from our neighbours, and building a future for our people," he said.
Indo-Pak accord on four trade routes
Singh assures Zardari of respecting Indus Waters Treaty
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
NEW YORK: Pakistan and India have agreed to resume trade through land routes and decided to open four points for this purpose, including two along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, while two would be on the international borders.
The agreement, without any tangible progress towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, is perceived to be a departure from Pakistan's historic position on Kashmir followed by the successive governments.
Meanwhile, India assured Pakistan that it would stand by the Indus Waters Treaty and Pakistan would get its share of river waters in accordance with the treaty. President Asif Ali Zardari raised the issue of water share in his maiden meeting on Wednesday evening with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his hotel in New York.
A joint statement was issued after the meeting and the two leaders also had a brief interaction with the media. The leaders of Pakistan and India, vowing to work for an early and full normalisation of relations, have agreed to open four trade routes as part of the efforts to strengthen trade, commerce and bilateral ties.
The joint statement reads: "Both the leaders agreed that the forces that had tried to derail the peace process must be defeated. "This would allow the continuation and deepening of a constructive dialogue for the peaceful resolution and satisfactory settlement of all the bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir," added the statement issued after the hour-long session.
"They agreed that violence, hostility and terrorism had no place in the vision they shared regarding the bilateral relations, and must be visibly and verifiably prevented," it said, adding: "Severe action would be taken against elements involved in terrorist acts," the statement said.
The two leaders welcomed the "several positive outcomes of the four rounds of the composite dialogue, which had brought their people, businesses and institutions closer." They agreed on the opening of the Wagah-Attari road link and Khokrapar-Munabao rail route for all permissible items of trade. They also decided to commence cross-LoC trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakot roads on October 21, and to discuss modalities for the opening of the Skardu-Kargil route soon. The two countries have just concluded talks in New Delhi on the subject of opening of trade routes across the LoC.
The meeting between the two leaders called for consolidating the gains made through sustained efforts to resolve all outstanding issues. "They agreed to work for an early and full normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and non-interference," the two-page statement said.
Pakistan and India also agreed that their foreign secretaries would schedule meetings of the fifth round of the composite dialogue in the next three months to focus on "deliverables and concrete achievements".
They also agreed to stabilise the ceasefire and that the director-generals military operations and sector commanders would stay in regular contact.The two sides also agreed to hold a special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism in October to address mutual concerns, including the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Prime Minister Singh congratulated President Zardari on his election and the victory of democracy in Pakistan. He expressed the hope that this would pave the way for a profound transformation of the bilateral relationship, so that India and Pakistan might work together on their shared objectives of peace, prosperity and security.
The two leaders also agreed on expansion of people-to-people contacts, trade, commerce and economic cooperation as it provided an effective platform to develop and strengthen bilateral relations.
They evolved a consensus to continue interaction between the planning commissions of both the countries to develop mutually beneficial cooperation, including the energy sector.
Indian diplomatic sources later told this scribe that India was committed to implementing the Indus Waters Treaty that allowed equitable distribution of water, after President Asif Ali Zardari sought an early action on the issue of reduction of water flow in the River Chenab at his meeting with the Indian prime minister.
Dr Manmohan Singh assured President Zardari that the Indus Waters Treaty would be implemented in letter and spirit. It is the obligation of the government of India and they will invite the Indus waters commissioner soon after Eid to look at the situation."
President Zardari said he was working for poverty alleviation and economic development in South Asia.Manmohan said all the outstanding issues could be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
"We discussed all aspects of our relations - trade, Jammu and Kashmir - we are not afraid of the word K (Kashmir)." President Zardari while talking to the media after the meeting said that Dr Singh is the architect of modern India. He has assured us about water, which is our main concern. "We are thankful for his assurances in this regard".
Dr Singh said that all outstanding issues could be resolved through peaceful dialogue. "A strong prosperous, peaceful, democratic Pakistan is in our interest," he concluded.
War on terror Pakistan’s own fight: Zardari
WASHINGTON: Pledging Pakistan’s unwavering resolve against terrorism, President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday urged international help to curb the menace through socio-economic uplift of the people but also warned that foreign actions in violation of its sovereignty would only strengthen forces of violent extremism.
“We 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,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Boston Globe.
“Attacks that violate our sovereignty actually serve to empower the forces against which we mutually fight,” added the Pakistani leader, who has been advocating Islamabad’s position during his several interactions with world leaders including US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Zardari argued strongly that the fight against terrorism would not be won by guns and bombs alone.
“The fight must be multifaceted. The battleground must be economic and social as well as military. We will win when people are mobilized against the fanatics. To mobilize them we have to give them hope and opportunity for their future. They need jobs.
“Their children need education. They must be fed. They must have energy. We must demonstrate to them that democracy does perform and that democratic governance can improve their everyday life. In terms of security and national interest, our success will be success for the world as well.”
Pakistan, he pointed out, has been a victim of terrorism and last week’s cowardly attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad is another example of the irrational threat against civilization.
“Striking during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, the barbarians killed 60 people and injured hundreds more. It was our national 9/11. It once again demonstrated that Pakistan is the great victim in the war on terror”.
“We have lost more soldiers in Afghanistan than all the 37 countries that have forces there. We have watched our children being blown up, our wives cut down. We do not need lectures about terrorism from anyone. We don’t read about it or watch it on the evening news. We live it each and every day.”
Asserting that the war on terror is Pakistan’s war, he said, “We stand united and in defiance. We are resolved that our future will not be dictated by those who defile the spirit and laws of Islam for their sordid political goals. We may be the targets of international terrorism, but we will never succumb to it.”
The Pakistanis are confronting the terrorist threat in our tribal areas as well as in their cities. Soldiers are arrayed in the field against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and last month Pakistani fighter jets killed 600 enemy fighters, he wrote.
He said it is a combination of political will, popular mobilization, and a socio-economic development, that can defeat terrorism by winning the hearts and minds of the people, giving them a concrete stake in our country’s emerging democracy and in it economic infrastructure.
“Toward this end, we need the support of the developed world to not only help us fight terrorism but also its root causes, which lurk in the poverty that breeds hopelessness.”
Zardari stressed his commitment to fighting terrorism is both personal and national and added economic justice and political democracy are the terrorists’ worst nightmares.
“I am a democratic president of a democratic nation elected with a two-thirds mandate, and I intend that my country be a model to our region and religion of a vibrant, modern, tolerant, peaceful, moderate democracy committed to economic and social justice. People, including my wife, died for this moment. I do not intend to squander it”.
“Terrorism took Benazir Bhutto’s life. But the terrorist cannot kill my wife’s dream.”
Zardari enchanted by Palin
NEW YORK: US vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin and the foreign leaders she has met with in New York have said very little to reporters over the last two days, but the press happened to be in the room on Wednesday for one eyebrow-raising exchange, as the new president of Pakistan lavished praise on Palin's looks.
On entering a room filled with several Pakistani officials this afternoon, Palin was immediately greeted by Sherry Rehman, the Information Minister. "And how does one keep looking that good when one is that busy?" Rehman asked, drawing friendly laughter from the room when she complimented Palin.
"Oh, thank you," Palin said. Pakistan's recently elected president, Asif Ali
Zardari, entered the room seconds later. Palin rose to shake his hand, saying she was ‘honoured’ to meet him.
Zardari then called her "gorgeous" and said: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you." "You are so nice," Palin said, smiling. "Thank you."
A handler from Zardari's entourage then told the two politicians to keep shaking hands for the cameras. "If he's insisting, I might hug," Zardari said. Palin smiled politely.
The Alaska governor did not answer questions from reporters at her first two appearances on Wednesday, when she joined McCain in meetings with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, and then traveled downtown to meet with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.
But she did offer brief remarks to a reporter at the Zardari meeting who asked about her day. "It's going great," Palin said. "These meetings are very informative and helpful, and a lot of good people sharing appreciation for America."
Zardari meets Jiabao in New York
NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have vowed to further solidify the “all weather friendship” between the two countries with increased trade, bilateral and people to people contacts. The two leaders who met here on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly session discussed wide-ranging issues of mutual interest to the countries.
Premier Wen Jiabao congratulated President Asif Ali Zardari on assuming his office and expressed the hope that under his leadership the relations between the two countries will further strengthen in all spheres. He also invited the President to visit China at the earliest.
President Zardari said he would pay his first official visit to the Peoples Republic of China sometime next month. He hoped that during his visit the two countries would explore new avenues of cooperation in diverse fields.
He was also appreciative of the Chinese investment in different sectors in Pakistan and hoped that more entrepreneurs would be choosing the country as their next destination.
The Chinese Premier also conveyed his shock and grief over the deadly attack on the Marriott and the challenge of extremism and terrorism the country was facing.
The leaders were of the view that there was a need for expanded cooperation in this regard to bring peace to the region.
They noted with satisfaction the depth of their ties and hoped that with President Zardari’s forthcoming visit the relations will get a further boost.
Earlier President of World Bank Robert B. Zoellick called on President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed with him the economic challenges facing the country. They also discussed the global economic recession and the measures the government need to adopt to meet the challenge.
Zardari, Manmohan vow to combat terrorism, alleviate
NEW YORK: In another hectic day in New York, President Zardari has met with Indian Prime Minister Manhomman Singh. The 35-minute long meeting went through positive atmosphere and came after a period of tension across the Pak-India border and in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, but also amid encouraging talks of cross-border trade.
The negotiations remained one-on-one. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman were also present on the occasion. Meanwhile, issues of mutual interests came under discussion including Indus Basen Treaty, Kashmir issue and war on terrorism.
After the meeting, the Indian Premier said that we discussed bilateral issues of mutual interest and he was very much contented with the negotiations.
He said that India was ready to implement on the Indus Basen Treaty according to its words and soul.
President Zardari said that he wanted to be benefited by the Manmohan’s experience adding that both the leaders favored to lodge joint struggle to alleviate poverty and to prevail peace in the region.
Indian National Security Advisor N.K. Naraen, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shenker accompanied Indian premier.
U.S. respects Pakistan's sovereignty: President Bush
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
NEW YORK: US President George W Bush on Tuesday assured President Asif Ali Zardari that his country respects Pakistan's sovereignty and its sovereign right to defend itself against terrorism.
Bush sat down for his first face-to-face meeting with Zardari to discuss security and economic issues before they attended the UN General Assembly. The two presidents had their maiden meeting here in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where the US President is staying. It lasted about an hour.
He reaffirmed US commitment to Pakistan's economic development and cited Washington's bipartisan support in this respect. President Asif Ali Zardari thanked the US for its support for the revival of democracy in Pakistan.
The US president welcomed the newly elected Pakistani leader and assured him of his country's cooperation. They discussed enhancing bilateral relationship with the US leader, pledging support for Pakistan in the economic and security fields.
The two presidents held discussion on a number of issues of mutual interest. President Bush at the outset expressed profound sense of grief over the heavy loss of lives on the weekend bombing on the Marriott hotel, Islamabad.
President Zardari expressed the confidence that Pakistan would be able to overcome its problems. “Democracy is the answer" to the problems facing Pakistan, he said. "We have problems, we have a situation but we will solve them."
President Bush said: "I thank you for coming. And I have really been looking forward to this meeting; after all, Pakistan is a close and important friend." He offered his deepest condolences to the victims of those who died as a result of the terrorist attack in Islamabad.
"I know that you -- your heart goes out to the families of those who suffered and so does the collective heart of the American people; we stand with you," George Bush said.
Recalling his meeting with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his two sisters in Beijing on the occasion of opening of Beijing Olympics, the US president said he got to know Zardari a little bit in an interesting way when he met the children at the Olympics.
"It reminded me about the great suffering that they and you have been through with the loss of your beloved wife. And I thank you very much for staying involved in public service to honour her legacy," President Bush said.
He said Pakistan is an ally and he looks forward to deepening the relationship. "We'll be discussing, of course, how to help spread prosperity. We want our friends around the world to be making a good living. We want there to be economic prosperity and we can work together, and of course we'll be talking about security. And your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," the US president said.
Referring to the current economic difficulties of the United States, President Bush said the world leaders are wondering whether or not the United States has the right plan to deal with this economic crisis.
"I've assured them that the plan laid out by Secretary Paulson is a robust plan to deal with a serious problem. And now they're wondering about our Congress and I've assured them as well that having spoken to the leaders of the Congress from both political parties there is the desire to get something done quickly," he added.
President Bush observed that there's a natural give-and-take when it comes to the legislative process. There are good ideas that need to be listened to in order to get a good bill out that will address the situation.
"I'm confident that there will be a bipartisan bill, that the Republicans and Democrats will come together to get this piece of legislation passed, which is necessary to address the financial situation and provide a rescue plan to make sure that there's some stability in the markets," he said.
President Zardari thanked President Bush and said: "Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for your thoughts. As always, you prove to the world that your heart is in there for us Pakistanis, we respect your feelings, we respect the American ideals. And we bring to this the whole concept of your promise to the world of bringing democracy to Pakistan. Democracy has come full circle and it's been the help of all the friends around the world and we are thankful to the world for helping democracy."
He said: "Democracy is the answer. We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We've got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion. That's what my wife's legacy is all about. That's what democracy is all about, to take difficult decisions and do the right thing for the people of our country and our two great nations. We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world," President Zardari concluded.
President Zardari was assisted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi, Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Information Minister Sherry Rehman, National Security Advisor Maj-Gen Mehmud Ali Durrani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's permanent envoy to the United Nations Hussain Haroon while the US President was assisted by Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Hadley and Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher.
Pakistan is at war: Zardari
NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said US President George W Bush respects Pakistan's sovereignty. Addressing a press conference here, Zardari said Europe and the United States support Pakistani people.
Regarding the Kashmir issue, the president assured that he would hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue. "The people will have to realise that we are at war... terrorism cannot be eliminated by having wishes and hopes," he said.
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir adds: Pakistan will take up the water issue with India when President Asif Ali Zardari meets Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the United Nations headquarters on the sidelines of the 63rd summit of the UN General Assembly here on Thursday. This was stated by President Zardari at a press conference at his hotel here on Wednesday.
"I will take up the question of reduced water supplies in rivers flowing from India when I meet Prime Minister Singh, as it could impact on the country's vital agriculture sector. “The president was flanked by Information Minister Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, National Security Adviser General Mehmud Ali Durrani and Pakistan's permanent representative at the United Nations Hussain Haroon.
The Chenab River will be one of the major issues during the talks scheduled later in the day on the sidelines of the UNGA. "We need to do something about it," President Zardari said, reflecting the concern Pakistan feels about the unannounced reduction in water flow in the Chenab River in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty.
President Zardari, without elaborating, said his discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would encompass all issues affecting the relations between the two countries. In his first interaction with the press since his arrival in New York, the president said the new democratic government was trying to improve relations with India and said he had already announced a caucus on the Kashmir issue.
"We have taken into confidence all political forces in Pakistan," he said, adding the people of Pakistan and India need to move forward to resolve the issue. He termed Kashmir the core issue between the two countries and said it has been defined by late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
About measures being taken by the new leadership to resolve the Kashmir issue, the president said Pakistan was trying to seek a solution bilaterally, and nothing could be better if the two governments can resolve it on their own.
However, he said: "If needed we can always go back to the United Nations." Zardari described the uprising in Kashmir as "indigenous" and reiterated his government's firm moral support to the people of Kashmir.
Asked to elaborate on one of his earlier statements that there would be good news on Kashmir, Zardari said Kashmir remains the core issue between India and Pakistan and every Pakistani government has viewed it this way. The Pakistani position is well known. However, the problem can be resolved through people-to-people dialogue. He said his government would like to settle outstanding issues with its neighbours bilaterally and by talking to them.
President Zardari said incursions by foreign troops across the border with the tribal areas and drone flights over Pakistani areas are weakening Pakistan's efforts against the terrorists and such activities are not helping in the endeavours of winning hearts and minds of the people.
When asked if in his meeting with President George Bush, he had been given the assurance that there would be no more incursions or attacks into Pakistani territory, the president replied that the US president's statements on the subject were indicative of his mindset. It was clear that without being specific, the Pakistani leader was satisfied that there would not be a repetition of such attacks. He said the two sides were in constant dialogue and Pakistan considers such attacks to be counter-productive and not likely to win the hearts and minds of the people.
When told by a reporter that the US assurances extended to Pakistan vis-à-vis the war on terrorism were no good, he replied that there were weaknesses indeed but "we are trying to turn those weaknesses into strengths". He also said that they have made mistakes and we have made mistakes but we are going to revisit those mistakes and correct them. He said although he hopes for the best, hope is not a plan. He denied that the ISI issue had come up for discussion during his meeting with Bush.
To a question about the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, Zardari said market forces would need to be brought in to make the project a reality since as much as $6 billion is required to put it on the ground.
Asked if his party's parting of ways with the PML-N was permanent, he said he has a lot of respect for Nawaz Sharif and consider him his elder brother but there are some hawks in his party and there has been talk of fresh elections. They are not advising their leader properly, he added.
As to what he was doing to introduce a culture of austerity in Pakistan, he replied that he would lead by example and cited his travel by a commercial airline as an example of how he would set the austerity campaign into motion.
Zardari made several references to how he would like to go down in history. He said he would like to be remembered as someone who had abided by the struggle for democracy carried out by the PPP. He also made many references to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, whose legacy, he committed, to carrying forward.
To a question regarding his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Zardari spoke about a new chapter in the relations between the two countries, adding: "I am the new face of democracy in Pakistan." He also reiterated his strong desire to improve relations with India.
As for the proposal that there should be joint patrolling of the Pak-Afghan border, he said if the proposal was brought up formally, it would be considered. As for Pakistan's difficult economic situation, he said: "We are getting a sympathetic hearing."
Referring to honour killing in Pakistan, Zardari replied in an emotional tone that he is the father of two daughters, the brother of three sisters and has a legacy of a great lady and this issue is very close to his heart. He said Benazir Bhutto is always by his side and he is guided by her principles and is inspired by her ideals. He also noted that those responsible for the murder of five Baloch women, who were seen to have defied tribal customs, had been arrested.
About the UN investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Zardari said that it had been taken up and the fact was that the United Nations itself had condemned it in a resolution. He did not agree with the proposition that the probe by the world body could have any adverse impact.
Agencies add: President Zardari said parliament was in charge of the ISI. Therefore, all issues, including missing persons, would be solved on the floor of the National Assembly. Similarly, while talking about Dr Aafia Siddiqui, he said the government was providing all moral and financial support for the early release of Dr Aafia.
"It is due to the efforts of the government that the return of the Aafia's son was made possible," he said. While talking about his visit to China, Zardari said his first official visit would be to China.
Calling the anti-terrorism fight a tough challenge, the president said he is endeavouring to secure international and regional support on taking forward the struggle holistically with a simultaneous thrust on political, economic and security dimensions.
"I have discussed the situation with world leaders, including President Bush, and we are pursuing the idea of a regional conference towards broader ownership of the struggle and moving forward with a much greater emphasis on the battle for hearts and minds," he said.
He reaffirmed Pakistan's stance to protect its sovereignty in the fight against terror and at the same time stressed that the country needs international support to give hope for better economic opportunities to the people in the remote areas.
Pakistan, India to open trade across four points: Joint Statement
NEW YORK: Leaders of Pakistan and India, vowing to work for an “early and full” normalisation of relations between the two countries, have agreed to open trade across four points, including two along the Line of Control in Kashmir, as part of efforts to strengthen trade, commerce and bilateral ties. “Both leaders agreed that the forces that have tried to derail the peace process must be defeated,” a joint statement issued after a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday, noting the strain peace process in recent months.
“This would allow the continuation and deepening of a constructive dialogue for the peaceful resolution and satisfactory settlement of all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir,” said the statement on the hour-long session held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“They agreed that violence, hostility and terrorism have no place in the vision they share of the bilateral relationship, and must be visibly and verifiably prevented,” it said, adding: “Severe action would be taken against any elements directing or involved in terrorist acts.”
The two leaders welcomed the “several positive outcomes of the four rounds of the Composite Dialogue, which have brought their people, businesses and institutions closer.”
They agreed on the opening of the Wahgah-Attari road link and Khokrapar-Munabao rail route to all permissible items of trade. They also decided to commence cross-LoC trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakot roads on October 21, and to discuss the modalities for opening of Skardu-Kargil route soon.
The meeting between the two leaders called for consolidating the gains made through sustained efforts to resolve all outstanding issues. “They agreed to work for an early and full normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and non-interference,” the two-page statement said.
Pakistan and India also agreed that their Foreign Secretaries will schedule meetings of the Fifth round of the Composite Dialogue in next three months to focus on “deliverables and concrete achievements”.
They also agreed to stabilise the ceasefire and that the Director Generals Military Operations and Sector Commanders will stay in regular contact.
The two sides also agreed for holding a special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism in October to address mutual concerns including the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
Prime Minister Singh congratulated President Zardari on his election and the victory of democracy in Pakistan. He expressed the hope that this would pave the way for a profound transformation of the bilateral relationship, so that India and Pakistan could work together on their shared objectives of peace, prosperity and security.
The two leaders also agreed on expansion of people to people contacts, trade, commerce and economic cooperation as it provides an effective platform to develop and strengthen bilateral relations.
They also agreed to continue interaction between the Planning Commissions of both countries to develop mutually beneficial cooperation including the energy sector.
WB Chief assures Zardari of support, $ 1.337 billion programs in current year
NEW YORK: World Bank President Robert Zoellick assured President Asif Ali Zardari of the financial institution commitment to Pakistan’s development, informing him that $ 1.337 new programs are in pipeline in the current year. Zoellick said the World Bank funded program in the pipeline this year include sectoral investment such as energy, water, infrastructure etc. He also assured of the Bank’s support for development in FATA as well as pro-poor programs in Pakistan.
President Zardari apprised the Bank Chief of Pakistan’s macroeconomic stabilization program, Benazir Income Support Program for pro-poor support and mobilization of resources for industrialization and investment in Pakistan.
The political government, he said, has taken difficult decisions to meet the current economic challenges, saying the programs would help Pakistan move out of this difficulty in the near-term.
Zardari also spoke of Friends of Pakistan initiative, stating it is aimed at mobilizing support for Pakistan’s development. The President also shared his vision for fast-track development and industrialization in FATA to provide employment opportunities in that area.
Albright calls on President Zardari on behalf of Obama
NEW YORK: Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright called on President Zardari on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama and discussed US-Pakistan relations and bilateral cooperation in various fields here Wednesday afternoon. President Zardari and Albright had a detailed exchange of views on issues of mutual interest, including terrorism, regional peace and stability, and wide-ranging ties between the two countries.
Zardari briefed Albright in detail on the historic background of the phenomena of terrorism and extremism, underlining the need for evolving an effective strategy to combat the menaces.
Albright conveyed condolences to President Zardari on behalf of Senator Barack Obama on the tragic loss of innocent lives in the terrorist attack on Marriot Hotel in Islamabad.
Appreciating restoration of democracy in Pakistan, Albright paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for her exemplary leadership qualities.
President Zardari who also received Republican Party candidate for Vice President, Sara Palin on Wednesday, is expected to have a discussion with the Democratic Party candidate, Senator Joseph Biden Thursday.
Ban Ki-Moon hosts dinner for world leaders
NEW YORK: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Wednesday hosted a dinner in honour of world leaders attending the UN General Assembly Session.
Speaking at the reception, Ban Ki-Moon said United Nations is like a family which is facing many challenges. He said viewpoints or opinion could be different on these challenges but all were agreed on the point that these issues needed to be addressed.
“Only UN can provide the solution for these challenges,” he added.
In his address, UN Secretary Generally specially mentioned name of US President Bush. “Bush is attending the UN General Assembly session for the last time as President of USA,” he said, adding we are thankful to Bush for his role in UN. Bush thanked Ban Ki-Moon and expressed best wishes for him.
Pakistan, Iran to speed up work on IPI project
NEW YORK: Pakistan and Iran Tuesday agreed to speed up the pace to initiate work on the multi billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and to set up a Joint Company to raise capital for the US 7.5 billion dollar project.
The decision came at a meeting here between President Asif Ali Zardari and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here on the sidelines of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly session that also covered a wide range of issues between the two countries.
The two sides agreed on a meeting of their two foreign ministers on October 9 and 10, besides setting up a committee of five senior officials from either side to finalise the project and coordinate activities.
The two leaders during their meeting focused on the project and stressed the importance of early completion of the over 2700-km long IPI gas pipeline project that would bring in natural gas from the South Pars fields in Iran to Multan in Central Pakistan.
The project is aimed at helping the country meet its energy shortages and the growing industrial sector in Pakistan.
The two leaders also discussed the import of additional 1000 MW of electricity from Iran, to meet the energy shortage in the country, particularly in Balochistan and expressed satisfaction over the pace of talks.
During the around half an long meeting at the UN, President Asif Zardari stressed that the strong political ties between the two countries need to be translated into a more meaningful relationship by focusing on enhancing bilateral trade, commerce and economic cooperation.
President Ahmadinejad said there were several areas where the two countries could share their experiences for the mutual benefit of the two peoples.
President Asif Zardari also pointed at the deep historical and cultural ties between Pakistan and Iran and to further augment these through increased people-to-people interaction and cooperation in education, health and communication.
President Ahmadinejad congratulated President Zardari on assuming his office and hoped that the friendly and ever-lasting ties between the two countries would further strengthen in the years ahead.
He also expressed his shock and grief over the loss of life in the deadly attack at the Marriott and said both the countries need to have continued cooperation to cull extremism and terrorism from the region.
President Zardari meets with Brazilian, South Korean leaders
NEW YORK: President Asif Ali Zardari discussed expanding Pakistan’s trade and economic relations with Brazil and South Korea as he met separately with leaders of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. The newly elected Pakistani leader’s meetings with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lulla De Silva and South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung’Soo focused mainly on augmenting economic cooperation, officials said. In the meetings President Zardari spelled out his government’s economic priorities and trade and investment policies.
The leaders of the two countries showed keen interest in bolstering bilateral relationship with Pakistan and exchanged views on ways to build on the existing ties.
A senior official told reporters the series of sideline meetings President Zardari has been having with world leaders will be followed up by dedicated teams as the government wants to have increased international cooperation to move the country towards sustainable economic development.
U.S. president alive to Pak concerns: Sherry
NEW YORK: Describing the meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and President George Bush as cordial, Information Minister Sherry Rehman
has said the United States has reaffirmed its respect for Pakistan's sovereignty in its fight against terrorism.
"President Bush said we are alive to Pakistan's concerns about its sovereignty and we respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity," she told reporters at a briefing following a half an hour discussion between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
The delegates from the two sides attended the meeting for 10 minutes after which the two leaders held one-on-one parleys for another 20 minutes. The discussions covered a wide range of issues, including democracy, economic development and counterterrorism with the two leaders, establishing a good rapport in their first ever talks, said the minister, who was a member of the Pakistani side at the meeting.
"President Bush praised President Zardari's courage and commitment to fight terrorism despite his great personal loss," and acknowledged that he had stood up to the challenges, Sherry added.
The US leader lauded Pakistan's important role in the fight against terrorism. Bush also expressed Washington's full support for Pakistan's initiative for holding a conference "Friends of Pakistan" to drum up international support for its economic development.
It was noted in the discussion that Pakistan-US strategic relationship would not be confined to security issues alone but also cover wide-ranging areas like socio-economic development, agriculture and education.
Pakistan, Turkey to enhance trade, economic ties
NEW YORK: Pakistan and Turkey on Tuesday vowed to further expand their ties with a particular focus on trade and stronger economic cooperation, as their two leaders met here at the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly.
The talks between President Asif Ali Zardari and President Abdullah Gul of Turkey covered all facets of their bilateral ties, besides international matters and the situation in the region, with a particular focus on Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Zardari said the two countries have always stood next to each other whenever the need arose and will continue to do so in future as well.
He recalled the deep historical and brotherly ties between the two people, spanning over centuries.
He said increased economic cooperation between the two countries will not only improve their commercial ties, but also bring about prosperity for their peoples.
He said there was wide scope of increased interaction between the two countries in banking and commerce sectors.
President Zardari said Pakistan’s various sectors were open for investment and said his government would be pleased to have Turkish investors in infrastructure development and other construction activities, besides joint ventures between the private sectors of the two countries.
President Gul strongly condemned, what he called an
"appalling attack" in Islamabad and said it was aimed at spoiling domestic peace.
He said the people of Pakistan can foil the nefarious designs of the terrorists by exhibiting unity and strength.
Gul also congratulated Zardari for having been elected as the president and extended his country’s support to bring stability, peace and strengthening democracy. He also reiterated his invitation to visit Turkey. President Zardari accepted the invitation.
Zardari, Sarkozy vow to strengthen ties
NEW YORK: As part of the series of meetings along the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, President Asif Ali and also met his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in the US on Tuesday.
The French president has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan. At the meeting, President Sarkozy also praised Pakistan for its efforts in combating terrorism.
Both the leaders discussed relations between the two countries, and decided to strengthen economic ties.
President Sarkozi also welcomed the return of democracy to Pakistan and condoled the death of assassinated PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari to plead Pakistan’s case at UN General Assembly
NEW YORK: Information Minister Sherry Rehman Tuesday said President Asif Ali Zardari will plead Pakistan’s case at the United Nations and apprise the world community about the critical situation it was facing while tackling violent extremism.
In an informal chat with the Pakistani media here at the Press Centre set up for the media team covering President Asif Ali Zardari’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, she said “the President will be addressing quite a few things” when he takes up the floor at the world body.
“Asif Zardari has come here to fight Pakistan’s case,” she said, adding however that the president himself will spell out his vision in his address. Besides, she pointed, President Zardari will also discuss bilateral matters with the world leaders on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Meeting.
Sherry Rehman said Pakistan wants a broad-based, sustainable multi-lateral relationship with all the countries including the United States of America, covering all facets of their ties.
The Information Minister when asked about country’s stance regarding U.S. attacks within Pakistan’s territory said Pakistan has always asked the Untied States to “provide us actionable intelligence and we will act upon it.”
Commenting on devastating suicidal attack on Marriot Hotel, she said it will be investigated from all possible angles.
The war on terror is Pakistan’s own battle. “When the writ of the government is challenged it has to be re-imposed,” she said.
Sherry said President Zardari would have meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the UNGA summit, the primary focus of the