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Cameron rejects Zardari's assertions on war against Taliban being lost

By Abdul Nisar

London, Aug 4 (ANI): British Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected assertions made by Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari that "the battle of hearts and minds" is being lost in Afghanistan.

Zardari, who arrived in the UK just hours after telling a French newspaper that coalition forces had "under-estimated the situation on the ground" in Afghanistan, will meet Cameron at Chequers on Friday

"The international community, to which Pakistan belongs, is losing the war against the Taliban. This is above all because we have lost the battle to win hearts and minds," SKY News quoted Zardari, as saying.

But Cameron flatly rejected the notion, saying Nato is "allowing life to go on".

"We're protecting a large percentage of the population (in central Helmand province) keeping them free from terror and, in the areas that we are in, you now see markets functioning and schools open ... and life is actually able to go on. So I don't accept that we're losing the battle of hearts and minds," Cameron told BBC WM radio.

"It is very difficult, it's very tough what we're asking our troops to do, but there's a basic programme here, which is to protect the people in a classic counter-insurgency programme, build up the Afghan army and police and as they are capable of taking care of their own security, we will be able to leave," he added.

Zardari met French President Nicolas Sarkozy before travelling to the UK

Cameron said he did not regret his comments about Pakistan's involvement in terror, and said the countries' relationship could "survive speaking frankly about problems".

Zardari said that he would be raising the issue when the men have talks at Chequers on Friday. "The war against terrorism must unite us and not oppose us," he said.

The Pakistani president has received strong criticism for travelling to Britain despite the floods that have killed over 1,400 people in his country. (ANI)

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