UNITED NATIONS, Nov 13: President Asif Ali Zardari has told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that attacks inside Pakistan by US unmanned Predators in pursuit of militants are undermining Pakistan’s efforts in war against extremists.

Mr Zardari told Ms Rice that these drone attacks were unproductive, and they were contributing to alienation as opposed to winning people over, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on Wednesday evening.

He was addressing a press conference after a meeting between Ms Rice and President Zardari on the sidelines of United Nations interfaith dialogue meeting.

Mr Qureshi said that over the past seven years losses suffered by Pakistan in the war against terrorism amounted to $34.5 billion. “Pakistan paid a huge price; both in economic and human terms, to protect itself and the world,” he added.

He said that the government was still compiling figures of the losses and would reveal it in a report soon.

TRILATERAL SUMMIT: Asked about President Zardari’s meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he said it was part of the “several regional initiatives” being taken to stabilise the strife-torn area.He said several initiatives were ongoing and results would take time. “It’s a long haul…progress has been made.”

But he added: “It was not a mere get-together; it was a meeting between three very serious players, with an agenda to attain peace and stability in the region.”

Mr Qureshi said the situation in the region was not merely an issue between Pakistan and Afghanistan and there was need for the regional ownership of the issue.

He said the Afghan government was not averse to holding talks with Taliban provided they recognised the country’s constitution and vowed not to resort to violent means.

He said there had been a “visible change” in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan since President Zardari assumed his office.

Referring to the mini-peace jirga held recently in Islamabad, the minister said Pakistan was in touch with other members of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and they now had a better understanding of Pakistan’s point of view.

Mr Qureshi denied reports of meetings between President Zardari and CIA chief Michael Hayden, or Israeli President

Shimon Peres, saying such contacts were not on the cards.

About Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s incarceration in the United States, he said the government was trying for her repatriation to Pakistan through diplomatic means.


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