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Embarrassed Pakistan downplays Zardari's 'confession'

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
July 09, 2009 20:02 IST
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Playing down President Asif Ali's remarks that Pakistan 'created and nurtured' militants to achieve short-term objectives, the government on Thursday said the statement should be seen in the context of the situation that prevailed after Soviet forces pulled out of Afghanistan.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said the President was referring to the period when the "West left Pakistan high and dry after the withdrawal of Soviet troops" from Afghanistan.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Pakistan has been dealing with the 'spill-over effects of the Afghan war', Basit said in reply to a question about Zardari's comments.

He said there is a need to 'transcend limited objectives' and to adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to tackle issues and problems in the region.

During a meeting with former senior civil servants on Tuesday, Zardari had said militants and extremists were 'deliberately created and nurtured' by Pakistan as a policy to achieve 'some short-term tactical objectives'.

"The terrorists of today were the heroes of yesteryears until 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well," he had said.

Earlier this week, Zardari said in an interview that military operations were required against militants, who had been considered as 'strategic assets' in the past.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad