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Pakistani President Invokes Slain Bhutto In Counterterror Plea At UN

Asif Ali Zardari holds a photo of his slain wife as he speaks at the UN.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari invoked his murdered wife Benazir Bhutto in an impassioned appeal to the rich world to help his country in its "bloody fight" against terrorists.

The widower-turned-president told the United Nations that he stood before the body "as a victim of terrorism representing a nation that is a victim of terrorism" and vowed not to waste the sacrifices of Bhutto and others who have died in Pakistan's struggle against Islamic militancy.

"We have picked up the torch and will fight against terrorists who attack us, and fight against terrorists who use our territory to plan attacks against our neighbors or anywhere in the world," said Zardari. "Ours has been a bloody fight."

Zardari, appearing before the UN General Assembly weeks after his election, kept a photo of Bhutto at the podium during his address. The two-time Pakistani prime minister was assassinated while campaigning last December.

He said the militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban believed to be behind her murder were wrong if they thought they had silenced her calls for a moderate, democratic Pakistan.

"We are resolved that our future will not be dictated by those who defy the spirit and laws of Islam for their sordid political goals," said Zardari, a wealthy businessman.

'Our Stability' Is Your Security

He called on rich nations to help Pakistan support its military fight against extremism with a social-economic strategy that would deliver jobs and education and alleviate food and energy shortfalls in his South Asian country.

"It is time for the developed world to step up to the plate to help us, and in turn help itself," said Zardari. "In our stability lies the world's security."

Zardari also touched on recent tensions between Islamabad and Washington following a stepped-up U.S. campaign of attacks on militant targets in parts of Pakistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters have been attacking U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan from havens in western Pakistan.

"Violating our nation's sovereignty is not helpful in eliminating the terrorist menace. Indeed this could have the opposite effect," he said, without mentioning the United States by name.

Zardari, who held talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 24, vowed to forge better ties with India and said that would help reduce militancy. He also pledged to work closely with Afghanistan and the NATO forces fighting there.