President Asif Ali Zardari has assured the United States that the Pakistan government will not allow anybody to challenge its writ or run a parallel administration in any part of the country. Zardari gave the assurance to US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke during a telephonic conversation, the Daily Times reported on Friday.
Holbrooke had called Zardari on Thursday night against the backdrop of reports that the Taliban from Swat had moved into two districts near the federal capital. Holbrooke and Zardari discussed the threat of the Taliban's increasing influence in Pakistan and the president said the government is aware of problems emanating from extremism and terrorism, the daily said. The newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the call was prompted by US fears that Pakistan was not realising the threat posed by the Taliban, who, Washington believes, have exploited the peace deal in Swat to increase their control to Bunner district, located 100 km away from Islamabad.
A brief statement issued by the presidential spokesmans said Holbrooke and Zardari discussed the situation in the region, the war on terror and the President's visit to the US early next month. Holbrooke exchanged views with Zardari on the peace deal in Swat and cooperation in the war against terror. Holbrooke's call coincided with a visit to Pakistan by Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen who has held talks with the top military leadership on the Taliban threat.