Zardari plays down Panetta's remarks on Pakistan

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Asif Ali Zardari
Beijing, Jun 9: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has sought to play down US warnings that its patience was running thin over terror safe heavens on its territory, saying the bilateral ties will become normal in the course of time.

"We (US-Pak) have mutual interests. Slowly but surely, we will get back to normal relations," Zardari, who is in China to attend the just concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, told China Daily.

Zaradri, who is here on his ninth visit to China, was reacting to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's comments that Washington is "reaching the limits of patience" with Pakistan on the issue of terror safe havens on the Pakistani territory.

Panetta also said that the US will continue to battle militants in Pakistan's tribal regions despite complaints from Islamabad that the drone strikes violate its sovereignty and create a sense of anti-American sentiments.

Asked about his opinion on Panetta's remarks, Zardari said: "I think sometimes politicians speak for political reasons. It is an election year in the US. Most of the comments coming from the US are based on their internal political condition."

"Nobody understands the effects of the war on Pakistan. We have lost 40,000 people and... suffered economically from terrorist attacks and activities," Zardari said.

"We are victims of terror ... It seems like Pakistan is abetting terrorists, but it is the wrong perception," he said. About the SCO, Zardari said: "the SCO is very young, and obviously it is taking its own time to grow. But it shows the world that this is the path we're taking."

PTI

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