Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pakistan president calls for peace

Pakistan president calls for peace
AFP Published:Dec 27, 2008

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said that war was not the solution to the problems of the region, calling for dialogue amid simmering tensions with India after the Mumbai attacks.

"Dialogue is our biggest arsenal," Zardari told ministers and lawmakers at the family home in Naudero of his dead wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated one year ago in a gun and suicide attack.

"The solution to the problem of the region... is politics, is dialogue and is democracy in Pakistan," Zardari said in a speech carried live on state television.

"I want to tell the oldest democracy and the largest democracies of this world - listen to us, learn from us," the Pakistani president said, in a clear reference to India.

"We have lost our people - we do not talk about war, we do not talk about vengeance," he said.

Relations between Pakistan and India have plummeted in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi has blamed on the banned Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistani officials said Friday troops had been moved to the border with India, prompting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to summon his military chiefs for a strategy session.

The escalation of tensions spurred the United States to lead international calls for calm.

"Every tragedy is an opportunity. Today the world is looking at us, but today the world is engaged with us," Zardari said.

"We have shortcomings. We need more help."

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