West paying price for ignoring Pakistani people: Zardari

West paying price for ignoring Pakistani people: Zardari
* PPP chief says Pakistan can still be converted into successful model of modernity
Staff Report, Daily Times, July 2, 2008

ISLAMABAD: The West invested in Pakistan’s weapons and military but not in its people, consequently the international community had to pay a terrible price for using it for short-term political objectives, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday.

“We were exploited under colonialism, manipulated as a tool of Cold War intrigue, made into surrogates for a war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and when that war was won, Pakistan and the country we liberated were abandoned to the forces of extremism and fanaticism,” Zardari said in his keynote address at the Socialist International Congress in Athens, according to a message received here.

He said Pakistan was now the Petrie dish of international terrorism that was a product of failed international politics and not the creation of Pakistan.

Successful model: Zardari said Pakistan could still be converted into a successful model of modernity for 1.3 billion Muslims on earth. For this, he added, the help of the international community was needed.

Zardari said every month new political madrassas and radical mosques emerged in Pakistan’s Tribal and Frontier areas and in Afghanistan. “Has the UN, or the US, or the UK, contributed one cent to the victims of terrorism in our land?” He urged the world to convene a South and Central Asia Regional Conference to co-ordinate a multi-faceted international programme to not only contain terrorism militarily, but to choke off the social and economic oxygen of the fire of terrorism by rebuilding the economies and infrastructure of his region.

“A prosperous Pakistan will smash the remnants of terrorism from our frontiers better than the bullets, missiles and tanks of the super-powers ... it will ensure not only Pakistan’s but the entire world’s stability.” Zardari said the government in Pakistan planned to bring economic, political and social transformation of the Tribal Areas. He said Pakistan was facing a looming energy and water crisis that threatened its resurgence. To meet the challenge, he said, the government would generate 2,200 megawatts of more power this year and tackle the water issue on an emergency basis by reducing water consumption by one half.

About the political madrassa and education curriculum he said, “In Pakistan political madrassas have spread hatred and intolerance. We will move to provide a uniform and responsible national curriculum, both for public and seminary education, so that the children of Pakistan have an opportunity for the future free of intimidation and coercion. And if political madrassas will not conform to the national curriculum, we will shut them down.”

Separately, Zardari has been elected vice president of the Socialist International Congress. Members of left-leaning political parties having socialist agenda from 162 countries are attending 23rd conference of the Socialist International Congress.

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