Declaring that India is not a “threat” to his country, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has described the militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir as “terrorists,” the first such admission by any top Pakistani leader.
“India has never been a threat to Pakistan. I, for one, and our democratic government is not scared of Indian influence abroad,” Mr. Zardari told Wall Street Journal in an interview.
He spoke of the militant groups operating in Kashmir as “terrorists,” the paper said, noting that former President Pervez Musharraf would more likely have called them “freedom fighters.”
Indicating a major shift in Pakistan’s well-known position, Mr. Zardari had, as chief of the Pakistan People’s Party, said in March that the ties between the two countries should not be held “hostage” to the Kashmir issue, which should be left for future generations to decide, raising hackles at home
Apparently, “our terrorists” ≠ “your freedom fighters” any more. I am not sure it changes the equation much in Kashmir, which, last I checked, was still burning.
Predictably, Mr. Zardari is getting a lot of guff about his statements and his foreign minister has already walked them back. He is more used to being a monarch maker who works in the background, put a microphone on him and his gaffes are McCainesque.