WASHINGTON-President Asif Ali Zardari urged the Obama administration on Wednesday to boost both military and non-military aid to Pakistan help it fight extremists, while also calling for a 'just and reasonable' settlement of the decades-old Kashmir dispute. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, he welcomed the appointment of veteran and seasoned diplomat Richard Holbrooke as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying it reflects much about President Barack Obama's 'world view and his understanding of the complexities of peace and stability and the threats of extremism and terrorism'. 'Much as the Palestinian issue remains the core obstacle to peace in the Middle East, the question of Kashmir must be addressed in some meaningful way to bring stability to this region. We hope that the special envoy will work with India and Pakistan not only to bring a just and reasonable resolution to the issues of Jammu and Kashmir but also to address critical economic and environmental concerns', Zardari wrote. But the US State Department has said that Kashmir is not in the mandate of Holbrooke, saying India has 'some very clear views' on the issue" apparently referring New Delhi's pressure against Washington's involvement in the dispute. 'Well, it (Kashmir) is not in his (Holbrook's) mandate', State Department spokesperson Robert Wood told reporters at his daily Press briefing in response to a question as to why the disputed territory of Kashmir has not been included in the mandate of Holbrooke. 'Well, it's not in his mandate to deal with the subject of Kashmir. His mandate is to go out and try to help bring stability to Afghanistan, working closely with Pakistan to try to deal with the situation in FATA', Wood said in his response to a question. 'With regard to Kashmir, I think our policy is well-known. I think India has some very clear views as to what it wants to do vis-a- vis, you know, dealing with the Kashmir issue, as well as the Pakistanis', Wood said. 'But with regard to Ambassador Holbrooke's mission, as I said, it's to deal strictly with the Pakistan-Afghanistan situation, Wood added. Asked whether the Special Envoy will play a role at a time there are heightened tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes, he said: Well, I don't want to speculate in terms of what he may or may not do, but his brief is focused solely on, as I said, Afghanistan-Pakistan', Wood said. In the article, Zardari said President Obama should push Congress to pass legislation introduced last year that would give $1.5 billion a year in aid to Pakistan for social programmes. 'Strengthening our democracy and helping us to improve education, housing and health care is the greatest tool we could wield against extremism', Zardari wrote. He said Pakistan has made 'remarkable progress' in the past several months in its battle against the Taliban and al Qaeda but needed the US to supply it with the newest military technology and to upgrade its military equipment. 'Give us the tools, and we will get the job done', he wrote. Zardari also warned that Pakistan's commitment to battling extremists should not be questioned. 'With all due respect, we need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying', Zardari said. He said 'Obama understands that for Pakistan to defeat the extremists, it must be stable'. For democracy to succeed, Pakistan must be economically viable, he added. 'Assistance to Pakistan is not charity, rather, the creation of a politically stable and economically viable Pakistan is in the long-term, strategic interest of the US', he said. 'Strengthening our democracy and helping us to improve education, housing and health care is the greatest tool we could wield against extremism. Indeed, such policy is the fanatics worst fear', he added. Experts noted that while President Zardari raise Pakistan's pressing issues, he made no mention of the ongoing US drone attacks in the Tribal Areas that are causing so much unrest among the Pakistani people. Referring to another pending legislation in US Congress, Zardari said that the designation of Regional Opportunity Zones (ROZs) to build a viable economy in northwest Pakistan and in Afghanistan would give residents an economic and political stake in the success of their democratic govts. If approved this legislation would result in tax-free export of products manufactured in specially designated areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. '(ROZs) Legislation introduced last year by Representative Chris Van Hollen and Senator Maria Cantwell should be quickly revisited; it would signal to our region that the US understands the correlation between a healthy economy, a satisfied people and a stable govt', Zardari said. 'Over the past several months, remarkable progress has been made in our battle against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Measures include repeated air-strikes by our F-16s and targeted ground assaults. We are willing to act to save our nation', he wrote. 'To the extent that we are unable to fully execute battle plans, we urge the US to give us necessary resources " upgrading our equipment and providing the newest technology " so that we can fight the terrorists pro-actively on our terms, not reactively on their terms', he said. Stating that Pakistan and the US have much in common and should be partners in peace, Zardari said this moment of crisis is an opportunity to recast their relationship. 'We are extending our hand in friendship', he said. 'Indeed, Pakistan's new democracy has pried open the clenched fists of the extremists, to use a metaphor from President Obama's inaugural address. Let it not be said by future generations that our nations missed an extraordinary opportunity to build lasting peace in South Asia', Zardari wrote. 'The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India. Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism. We applaud the President's desire to engage our nation and India to defuse the tensions between us'. Regarding his democratically elected govt's efforts to address problems facing the country, President Zardari said 'since the end of the (Pervez) Musharraf dictatorship, Pakistan has worked to confront the challenges of a young democracy facing an active insurgency, within the context of an international economic crisis'. Ambassador Holbrooke, he said, will soon discover that 'Pakistan is far more than a rhetorical partner in the fight against extremism'. 'Unlike in the 1980s, we are surrogates for no one. With all due respect, we need no lectures on our commitment. This is our war. It is our children and wives who are dying'. Holbrooke, the President said, 'will encounter a region of interrelated issues crossing borders " old problems that have been left to fester, new realities in an era of active terrorism, and the residual consequences of past Western support for dictatorships and disregard for economic and social development'. He pointed out that for almost 60 years the relationship between Pakistan and US has been based on quid pro quo policies with short-term goals and no long-term strategy. 'Frankly, the abandonment of Afghanistan and Pakistan after the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s set the stage for the era of terrorism that we are enduring. US support for the priorities of dictatorship back then, and again at the start of the new millennium, neglected the social and economic development of our nation, the priorities of the people. We must do better'.