SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The Pakistani Taliban have “the upper hand” and should be put on the list of banned organizations in Pakistan, said Asif Ali Zardari, who has been nominated by his party to be the country’s next president.
In an interview with the BBC published on its Web site late on Sunday, Zardari, 55, said the world and Pakistan were losing the war on terror.
“It is an insurgency”, the widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was quoted as saying. “It is our country and we will defend it.”
“The world is losing the war. I think at the moment they (the Taliban) definitely have the upper hand,” he said.
“The issue, which is not just a bad-case scenario as far as Pakistan is concerned or as Afghanistan is concerned but it is going to be spreading further. The whole world is going to be affected by it.”
Zardari’s remarks came shortly after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), put his name forward as its presidential nominee for elections set for September 6.
Zardari is a divisive figure who has wrestled with allegations of corruption for years. After Bhutto’s death in December, Zardari was named co-chairman of the PPP along with his son, but the latter is still in university and essentially a figurehead.
Even some Bhutto supporters regard him as a flawed character whose taste for power and the high life undermined her legacy. Zardari, who spent eight years in jail on corruption and drug-smuggling charges, denies any wrongdoing, accusing Bhutto’s political opponents of concocting the allegations to ruin him.