United Nations: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday declared at the United Nations that his country has suffered more than any other nation in the "epic struggle" against terrorism, with US drone strikes on its territory adding to complexities and it should not be asked to do more.
"No country and no people have suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism, than Pakistan," he told world leaders in his speech at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.
He said regular drone strikes against terrorist targets in his country have made it difficult for him to explain the fight against terror to his people.
"Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle," Zardari said.
He said a lot of questions are asked of Pakistan but he will not answer any of those. "The people of Pakistan have already answered them. The politicians of Pakistan have answered them. The soldiers of Pakistan have answered them," he said.
Zardari said instead he will ask questions on behalf of its people.
He said asking Pakistan to do more on terrorism is akin to insulting the memory of those who have been killed due to extremism.
"To those who say we have not done enough, I say in all humility : Please do not insult the memory of our dead, and the pain of our living. Do not ask of my people, what no one has ever asked of any other peoples. Do not demonize the innocent women, and children of Pakistan. And please, stop this refrain to do more.
"The simplest question of all is: How much more suffering can Pakistan endure," he said.
Zardari listed the number of casualties Pakistan has suffered due to extremism, saying the country has lost over 7,000 Pakistani soldiers and policemen and over 37,000 civilians.
Pakistan also lost its Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer to the "mindset of extremism."
Zardari had a framed photograph of his late wife Benazir Bhutto put before him on the podium and told the gathering that he too had borne a "personal scar" when Bhutto was assassinated through the "bullets and bombs of terrorists."
"Terrorism and extremism have destroyed human lives, torn social fabric, and devastated the economy. Our economy, our lives, our ability to live in the shadow of our Sufi saints and our freedom-loving forefathers have been challenged. We have responded. Our soldiers have responded," he said.
He demanded answers on behalf of the children, businessmen, ethnic minorities and security personnel who have been the target of bombings and assassinations "over and over and over again."
"I am sure the international community does not want any suffering anywhere, least of all in Pakistan. We believe in fact, that the international community is a partner. This is because it is the common interest of all nations to work together. Pakistan has helped bring about a major strategic shift in how we view working together," he said.
Zardari blamed his country's dictators for damaging Pakistan's democratic structure. "I remember the red carpet that was rolled out for all the dictators in our country - dictators who promised the international community the moon - while Pakistan was kept in the dark.
"These dictators and their regimes are responsible for suffocating and throttling Pakistan, its institutions, and Pakistani democracy."
Zardari said he has neither forgotten the brutality of the dictators against Pakistan's democratic leaders nor the billions provided by the international community to support those dictatorships.
"My country, its social fabric, its very character has been altered. Our condition today is a product of dictatorships," he said.
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