Pakistan’s President Ali Zardari has acknowledged in a television interview the Taliban is present “in huge amounts” of the country and Pakistani forces are “fighting for the survival of Pakistan.”
In an interview to be aired Sunday on CBS television’s “60 Minutes” news show, Zardari said the Taliban had been dismissed as a threat by the Pakistanis for a long time.
The Taliban “do have a presence in huge amounts of land in our side. Yes, that is the fact,” CBS quoted Zardari as saying.
“It’s been happening over time and it’s happened out of denial. Everybody was in denial,” he said. “And our forces weren’t increased … We have weaknesses and they are taking advantage of that weakness.”
But he said the Pakistani military and intelligence services are behind the fight against the Taliban.
“If that wasn’t the case, then Islamabad would have fallen because obviously if the army doesn’t do its job, these men are not restricted,” CBS quoted him as saying.
“They’ve blown up the Marriott Hotel before. They’ve attacked us inland before. They would be all around us, wouldn’t they?” he asked.
Although many Pakistanis regard the fight against the Taliban as America’s war, Zardari said that was not the case.
“We’re not doing anybody a favor … We are aware of the fact it’s [Taliban] trying to take over the state of Pakistan,” he says. “So, we’re fighting for the survival of Pakistan. We’re not fighting for the survival of anybody else.”