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India 'not a threat to Pakistan'

By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad

Asif Ali Zardari - 26/09/2008
Mr Zardari's remarks mark a radical break with the past

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says India has never been a threat to Pakistan, and that militants in Indian-administered Kashmir are terrorists.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he also seemed to acknowledge that his government has given consent to US air strikes in Pakistan.

The unorthodox views run counter to those held by Pakistan's military, which views India as a threat.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars but have made recent peace moves.

Deep suspicions

Pakistan's powerful military has long-defined India as an existential threat, and in the past it has given covert backing to the militants in Kashmir.

The two regional rivals did take part in a faltering peace process under the former president, General Pervez Musharraf.

But suspicions always ran deep, and relations have soured recently.

Mr Zardari's comments thus mark a radical break with the past.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that Mr Zardari acknowledged that the US was firing missiles at militant targets inside Pakistan with his government's consent.

"We have an understanding, in the sense that we're going after an enemy together," it quotes him as saying.

But the Pakistani army is adamant that coalition forces do not have permission for such cross-border raids.

These incursions have stoked enormous anger in Pakistan - and Mr Zardari's comments may do the same.




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