LONDON — The US-led coalition's battle against the Taliban has already been lost because of its failure to win over the Afghan people, Pakistan's president warned Tuesday before tough talks this week with Prime Minister David Cameron, who has accused the country of exporting terrorism.
President Asif Ali Zardari told the French daily Le Monde online that the coalition had "underestimated the situation on the ground and was not conscious of the scale of the problem" against the Taliban largely because "we have lost the battle to conquer the heart and soul" of the Afghan people. Long-term help — not just military reinforcements — was needed.
"To win the support of the Afghan population, we must bring them economic development and show that we cannot only change their lives, but above all improve them," Zardari was quoted as saying.
Zardari is set to meet with Cameron on Friday. The talks have been overshadowed by Cameron's remarks last week that Pakistan had looked two ways in dealing with terrorists.