US envoy in Pakistan seeks support of allies against 'militancy'

US envoy Holbrooke will visit Islamabad before going to Kabul and New Delhi "to devise a grand strategy against what he calls "militancy" in the region.

US envoy in Pakistan seeks support of allies against 'militancy'
Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan , will visit Islamabad on Monday before going to Kabul and New Delhi "to devise a grand strategy against what he calls "militancy" in the region.

President Barack Obama just two days after his inauguration last month named Holbrooke as special U.S. representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Holbrooke will be in Islamabad until Thursday meeting President Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani, among others.

Holbrooke, who will be responsible for implementing an integrated U.S. strategy towards Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, will "report back" to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, U.S. officials have said.

The battle against Taliban fighters and other armed groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan's frontier provinces is expected to dominate the discussions with Pakistani leaders.

"Tougher than Iraq"

His tour of the region comes after he told a security conference in the German city of Munich a day earlier.

Addressing a security conference in Germany Sunday, Holbrooke called for a regional approach and urged allies to contribute more to Afghanistan occupation.

"It is like no other problem we have confronted, and in my view it's going to be much tougher than Iraq," he said.

Afghanistan's neighbors are also part of the "solution", he said.

Washington has said it planned to send an additional 30,000 troops to the region.

Pakistan has already deployed more than 1,000 troops along its 2,500km border with Afghanistan, but the Afghan government says that force is insufficient.

He told Nato and European delegates in Munich that a new approach was needed to address the situation in Afghanistan.

"What is required in my view is new ideas, better co-ordination within the US government, better co-ordination with our Nato allies and other concerned countries and the time to get it right."

"Engaging Taliban"

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said he wanted to engage the Taliban in the political process.

"We will invite all those Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country ... to come back to their country," Karzai said, calling on the fighters to lay down their arms.

"There is no way that we can succeed in the way we want to, in the right time, without some form of reconciliation."

Kashmir solution

Pakistan wants the U.S. missile attacks to end, U.S. aid - $10 billion under ex-ruler Pervez Musharraf - and renewed diplomacy on Kashmir, an issue at the heart of its troubles with India but which Washington says isn't within Holbrooke's mandate.

Sen. Khurshid Ahmad, a member of Pakistan's upper house of parliament for the main Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami and head of an independent think thank, said the government had to make clear demands of the US.

"We should clearly tell the U.S. envoy that without resolving the Kashmir issue, there cannot be peace and security in the region," he added.

On Monday, the results of Pakistan's investigation into the Mumbai attacks in November will be presented to cabinet ministers and army chiefs at a meeting chaired by Gilani.

Agencies
Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2009, 15:35
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