Zardari expects Obama to review missile strikes on Pak soil

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Islamabad, Nov 11 : Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has reportedly said that he expected US president-elect Barack Obama to "re-evaluate" American military strikes on suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Warning against the recent surge in missile attacks, Zardari said that such attacks on his country's soil in pursuit of the Al Qaeda and Taliban elements was hurting Pakistan's own fight against such terrorists.

Zardari said Obama would re-examine that strategy, but acknowledged the Democrat - who struck a hawkish tone during the election - may continue the attacks. "I think there is definitively going to be a new look at all the issues that have been on the table of the United States and this is one of the large issues," the Daily Times quoted Zardari as saying in an interview with a foreign news agency.

He added: "I think from where it was when we took over, we are in a much better place. We used the force of the government and they (the Taliban) realised that there is a force here, that the people of Pakistan are to be reckoned with."

Pakistan has often asserted that though the attacks had killed some Al Qaeda and Taliban men, they had also killed many civilians, including women and children, stoking anger among locals. "We feel that the strikes are an intrusion on our sovereignty which are not appreciated by the people at large, and the first aspect of this war is to win the hearts and minds of the people," Zardari said.

The US is pressing Pakistan to take more action against Al Qaeda and Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which many consider the global frontline in the fight against Al Qaeda. And, the US officials say that the strikes on Pakistani soil had helped stem the flow of fighters into neighbouring Afghanistan, where they were blamed for rising attacks on American troops.

Zardari insisted that there was no economic meltdown looming in Pakistan, but also defended turning to the IMF. "I think it's a difficult pill, but one has to take medicine to get better," Zardari also said in the interview.

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