Islamabad, Aug.24 (ANI): Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has defended his handling of the flood crisis, but warned that Taliban extremists could take advantage of the calamity to spread terror and fear among the masses.
Zardari said it would take at least three years for the country to rebuild the devastated areas, and added that he did not think Pakistan would completely recover from the tragedy.
Zardari's comments came as Taliban militants killed at least 36 people in three separate attacks in the troubled north-west Pakistan, and the raging waters hit new areas in the south of the country, with the UN admitting that the floods are outrunning relief efforts.
"Obviously the only political forces waiting in the quarters is the rightist forces. The ideal hope for the radical [is] that hopefully the structure of the state will fail and he will evolve and come out the winner.
It's like when they assassinated my wife. It was not just an action to get rid of a prime minister-to-be, it was an action because her personality was a challenge to their ideology," Zardari told the Guardian.
"I always see such organisations and such people [extremists] taking advantage of situations like this.
They evolved through the human crisis of Afghanistan, they evolved in such a situation. [We must] try to be the buffer between them taking the children, keeping them in the orphanages, and trying to create them into robots," he added.
There is concern that impact of the floods - mass destitution, destruction of much of the country's crops and an outbreak of disease - could push Pakistan towards chaos. Some have suggested the government may be toppled.
Exiled MQM leader, Altaf Hussain, whose party is part of the ruling coalition, said a "French revolution" was required, and called on the military to "weed out corrupt politicians and feudal lords".
Zardari, however, insisted that the multiple crises would stop another military engineered coup from taking place in Pakistan.
"I don't think anybody in their right mind would want to take responsibility; it's only democracy that can carry the yoke," he said.
"Yes, there will be disappointments, so political forces are there for that reason. We will rebuild Pakistan a better place. But in between we'll have to go through the trauma of bad medicine, good medicine, pain; we'll have to live through that," he said.
Zardari, who is already unpopular in Pakistan because of allegations of corruption, has been heavily criticized for going ahead with an official visit to France and Britain earlier this month while the flood calamity was unfolding.
Zardari has countered the criticism by saying: "It [the criticism] gives me a reassurance that I'm so wanted," said Zardari. "I'm so wanted and so desired by people, that [they say] 'why are you out?' I have my own reason for being where I was at what time. I know that this is a long-term situation, and one has to have the capacity to sustain oneself for three years and not exhaust yourself immediately." (ANI)