WASHINGTON - President Asif Ali Zardari has called for the resumption of 'serious dialogue between the United States and Pakistan, saying the recent 'verbal assaults by American officials were damaging the bilateral relationship and compromising common counterterrorism goals. It is time for the rhetoric to cool and for serious dialogue between allies to resume, the president said in an opinion piece, entitled: Talk to, not at, Pakistan, published by The Washington Post on Saturday. Democracy always favours dialogue over confrontation, he wrote in the article aimed at stemming the slide in Washington-Islamabad triggered by the retiring US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen accusation about Pakistans involvement in last weeks militant attack on the US embassy in Islamabad. Regretting the heightened tensions, Zardari said the terrorists who threaten both Pakistan and the United States have gained the most from the recent verbal assaults some in America have made against Pakistan. Apart from seeking dialogue, the article, noted for its depth and sweep, highlights Pakistans role in combating terrorism, the sacrifices its armed forces have made, the suffering of its people at the hands of the terrorists. Above all, it looks beyond the post-US withdrawal period. Pakistan, he said, was positioning itself for the endgame in Afghanistan - post US forces withdrawal - And asked why was it unreasonable for Islamabad to be concerned about situation on its Western border. Backing the recent all-party resolution that Pakistan will be guided by its national interest in response to all challenges, Zardari said that recent US accusations against Pakistan of harbouring and supporting Haqqani network were a serious setback to the war effort against terror. As the US plans to remove its ground forces from Afghanistan and once again leave our region, we are attempting to prepare for post-withdrawal realities, the president said. Zardari asked, So why is it unreasonable for us to be concerned about the immediate and long-term situation of our Western border? In the 10 years that NATO has been in the neighbourhood, it has not even attempted to choke the worlds largest production of narcotic contraband that funds terrorist activity, the president wrote. Yet we struggle to hold the line against the tidal wave of extremism that surges into Pakistan each day from internationally controlled areas of Afghanistan. While we are accused of harbouring extremism, the United States is engaged in outreach and negotiations with the very same groups. The Pakistani street is thick with questions. My people ask, Is our blood so cheap? Are the lives of our children worthless? Must we fight alone in our region all those that others now seek to embrace? And how long can we degrade our capacity by fighting an enemy that the might of the NATO global coalition has failed to eliminate? President Zardari regretted, instead of being heard his country is spoken to. We have a huge population of young people who have few choices in life. Our task is to turn this demographic challenge into a dividend for democracy and pluralism, where the embrace of tolerance elbows out the lure of extremism, where jobs turn desolation into opportunity and empowerment, where plowshares take the place of guns, where women and minorities have a meaningful place in society. None of this vision for a new Pakistan is premised on the politics of victimhood. It pivots on a worldview where we fight the war against extremism and terrorism as our battle, at every precinct and until the last person, even though we lack the resources to match our commitment. When Pakistan seeks support, we look for trade that will make us sustainable, not aid that will bind us in transactional ties. When we commit to a partnership against terrorism, we do it in the hope that our joint goals will be addressed. When we add our shoulder to the battle, we look for outcomes that leave us stronger. Yet as Pakistan is pounded by the ravages of globally driven climate change, with floods once again making millions of our citizens homeless, we find that, instead of a dialogue with our closest strategic ally, we are spoken to instead of being heard. We are being battered by nature and by our friends. This has shocked a nation that is bearing the brunt of the terrorist whirlwind in the region. And why?