Zardari is not a weak leader, says Pak Foreign Secretary

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New York, Sept 24 : Rebuffing media reports that quoted Indian Government officials as saying that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari appeared to be not in control of affairs back home, and that there were many power centres in Pakistan, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said Zardari is performing his duties very ably and very correctly.

"We have a system of government in Pakistan. I think speculation like this is not helpful and we have to learn to respect our leaders. Whatever the media is saying is quite off track," Bashir told ANI in an interview.

Rejecting assertions that Pakistan has multiple power centers, he said: "There is one government, four provincial governments and the constitutional system that is working. We have an elected President, elected Prime Minister and all organs of state working together."

On Tuesday, Indian Government sources reportedly pointed out that Pakistan has multiple power centers -- the government, the ISI and the Army, to name three for starters.

Bashir's statement assumes significance as it came just hours before a meeting between President Zardari and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh here on the sidelines of the 63rd Session of UN General Assembly.

Bashir's Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon and he held a meeting in New York last night and reportedly discussed the agenda for Singh-Zardari meeting.

Bashir said: "The president is looking forward to meeting the Indian Prime Minister tomorrow and we are very positive and very optimistic. We are confident that meeting would yield good results for both the people of Pakistan and India and the region as the whole."

Bashir also hoped that the ongoing bilateral composite dialogue, which has been under stress over LOC ceasefire violations, would improve after Wednesday evening's meeting.

"The leaderships of both sides are very determined. It is well within their grasp to deal with these momentary difficulties," he added. By Naveen Kapoor

ANI

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