ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday condemned the militants for "exploiting religion of Islam".
Zardari told parliament in his traditional annual address that the government of his Pakistan Peoples Party in 2008 had inherited a country at war, a divided nation, facing the threat of terrorism and militancy, Xinhua reported.
The government dealt with enormous challenges and tried to meet the aspirations of the people and transform the country, he said.
He said efforts to counter militancy and extremism in the country had begun to pay off and the situation had improved.
"Where necessary, we have used force to ensure that the writ of the state is not challenged. We will continue to show resolve on this issue," the president said.
"Our bases, police stations, pipelines, railways, hotels and schools have been targeted. Even our mosques, churches and religious shrines have not been spared," he said.
The President regretted that the country's image had been negatively projected and the economy has had to bear the extra burden.
"I salute the courage and sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives to secure the future of our nation," he said.
"We are starting a new parliamentary year. During this period, we will see free and fair election," he said.
On international issues, he said Pakistan is committed to fully support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process in that country.
He said Pakistan and China had a unique relationship which was deeply rooted and mutually beneficial.
"My eight visits to China are a manifestation of taking this relationship to new heights," he said.
The president said that important steps had been taken to open up trade between India and Pakistan.
He said Pakistan-US relations were multi-dimensional and important, adding that his country sought to engage meaningfully with the US on the basis of mutual interest and respect.