Zardari asks US to mediate over Kashmir issue

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New York, Dec. 10 (ANI): In an apparent bid to drag the United States into the long pending Kashmir issue, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Washington should step in to mediate and help resolve the core issue between India and Pakistan.

In his article in the New York Times, Zardari, while welcoming America's 7.5 billion dollar pledge over the next five years for non-military projects in Pakistan, said that the Obama administration should compliment its long-term objectives through some short-term strategies, which would reflect Washington's 'neutrality'.

"This long-term commitment must be complemented by short-term policies that demonstrate American neutrality and willingness to help India and Pakistan overcome their mutual distrust. It could start by stepping up its efforts to mediate the Kashmir dispute," Zardari said.

Zardari underlined that there is a massive anti-America feeling prevailing in Pakistan, which stems from regional issues, particularly policies concerning India.

"I know it is the conventional wisdom in Washington that my nation is obsessed with India. But even to those of us who are striving toward accommodation and peace, the long history and the unresolved situation in Kashmir give Pakistanis reason to be concerned about our neighbour to the east," Zardari said.

" Just as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute cannot be resolved without accommodating the Palestinian people, there cannot be permanent regional peace in South Asia without addressing Kashmir," he added.

Terming his country's media as 'hyperactive', the President stressed that any doubts in the US regarding Pakistan's civilian regime were uncalled for.

"Pakistan's democratically elected government is unambiguously on the right path toward establishing a moderate and modern nation," Zardari said.

While dispelling the notion about having differences with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, he said the country's leadership is united and working closely with Parliament and the Army towards the prime objective of defeating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda backed campaign of terrorism.

"Our Constitution was distorted and perverted by military dictators who usurped the legal powers of Parliament. In accordance with the manifesto of the Pakistan Peoples Party, I am working toward strengthening the separation of powers of the presidency from those of the prime minister," Zardari said.

Referring to his recent decision to hand over the 'nuclear button' Gilani, Zardari said the decision was his own and rejected reports that he was being pressurised to do so.

"Recently, I voluntarily handed back the chairmanship of the National Command Authority that exercises control over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Contrary to some of the commentary on the subject, this is not a sign of weakness, but rather a demonstration of the vitality of Pakistani democracy," he said. (ANI)

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