(image via pbs)
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari was interviewed on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night by Margaret Warner. Warner the Emmy Award winning lead correspondent for 'The NewsHour's' overseas reporting unit, started off asking how much progress has the Pakistani Army made against the Taliban -- and that was one of her softer questions. A characteristic exchange:
"MARGARET WARNER: Your prime minister, yesterday, said the objective was to "eliminate the militants and terrorists." Now, what does that mean - eliminate?
PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: That means clearing out the area of the miscreants and bringing life to normalcy.
MARGARET WARNER: But I mean, what happens to them? Are you talking about killing them all or driving them somewhere else? If so, where?
PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: No, we are talking about - this is an offensive, this is war. They - if they can, they kill our soldiers and we do the same.
MARGARET WARNER: But I'm still trying to figure out what eliminate means.
PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: Well, I know what you're trying to figure out. Eliminate means exactly what it means.
MARGARET WARNER: Killing them all.
PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: That's what it means."
Whew! At the end of a particularly rough interview, the President of Pakistan called her tough. Transcript from The Newshour:
"MARGARET WARNER: Several members said they just weren't sure that you recognized the severity of the threat that your government faces from the militants and also from the Pakistani people's own kind of unhappiness right now. Do you feel you face an existential threat?
"PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: I feel the other way around. I feel that the world and the American Congress and the people do not understand the threat they face and the world faces from this threat, because this is a threat I lost my late wife to. This is a threat - this is the same mindset I lost my father-in-law to. This is the same mindset I've lost thousands of my friends to, my party workers to. So I feel we do understand the threat.
"The way I look at it is that you've given more aid to AIG than you've given to Pakistan in the last 10 years. So your one institution requires more attention than 180 million people and this war of the world. So it's a more dangerous war than the world has ever fought before.
"MARGARET WARNER: President Zardari, thank you so much.
"PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: Thank you, ma'am. You are a tough lady."
Veteran political columnist and Lehrer show contributor Mark Shields, in the Shields and Brooks segment later in the show, repeated the remark.