President Obama disagrees with the Pakistani president's conclusion that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is already lost because of the failure to win over the Afghan people, the White House said Tuesday.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told the French daily Le Monde online that the U.S.-led coalition had "underestimated the situation on the ground and was not conscious of the scale of the problem" against the Taliban largely because "we have lost the battle to conquer the heart and soul" of the Afghan people. Long-term help -- not just military reinforcements -- was needed.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama does not see eye-to-eye with Zardari on that point.
"I don't know why he's come to that conclusion. But I think it is safe to say that the -- the actions and the efforts that the coalition, international forces and American forces have taken over the last several months have very much the hearts and minds of the Afghan people at the forefront," Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday. .
"The Afghan people know of the brutality of the Taliban, just as the Pakistani people on the actions that their extremist counterparts were taking in Pakistan last year, to move on the capital of Pakistan is why the country of Pakistan started to take more direct action against safe havens," he said, offering an olive branch to the so-called ally in the nine-year conflict.
The Pentagon also disagreed with Zardari's characterization that the war is lost.
"We would not agree with that assessment," DOD spokesman Col David Lapan told Fox News. "The assessment as has been pronounced by any number of people -- we have rested the momentum. I don't think anybody has said there is a trend yet going in the other direction but it has at least stabilized and is starting to go down."
Zardari made the warning before talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism. The two are set to meet on Friday, though the talks have been overshadowed by Cameron's remarks last week that Pakistan had looked two ways in dealing with terrorists.
As the fighting in Afghanistan starts to take larger casualty tolls on the U.S. forces, concern has been growing that some elements in Pakistan's intelligence service and military have been sympathetic to militants -- a claim supported in Wikileaks, the self-described online whistle-blower that recently posted leaked U.S. military documents alleging Pakistan's unwillingness to sever its historical ties to the Taliban.
Zardari denied allegations that elements in Pakistan were cooperating with the Taliban and said the Wikileaks documents citing Pakistan predated his time as president.
"Pakistan and its people are the victims of the terrorists," said Zardari. Pakistan has lost some 2,500 of its security forces in the past few years during battles against insurgents.
Last year, Pakistan's military rejected U.S. attempts to link billions of dollars in foreign aid to increased monitoring of its anti-terror efforts.
Analysts have warned any breakdown in intelligence sharing and other types of cooperation would hurt the fight against a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO commanders have repeatedly said the war cannot be won unless Islamabad does more to tackle extremists on its side of the border.
As with the Afghan population, the U.S. is also trying to win the hearts and minds of Pakistanis.
U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan are responding to flooding that reportedly killed more than 1,200 people in Pakistan and 60 in Afghanistan with hundreds of thousands of meals meeting Muslim food standards, and military officials in medicine, logistics, aviation, engineering and other fields are on the ground in Pakistan to assist the Pakistani government.
"U.S. Forces Afghanistan are actively engaged with our Pakistan friends and partners in the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance during this critical time," Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday. "There are some tasks that the U.S. military is uniquely able to perform ... and we stand by to assist the Pakistani Government any way we can."
The U.S. has also contributed $10 million in aid and airlifted 733 people to safety, among other assistance.
Fox News' Pat Summers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.