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Pakistan situation is extremely complex, says special US envoy

Lalit K Jha in Washington | January 23, 2009 09:26 IST

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Special United States Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said he would soon head towards the troubled region in South Asia to have a first-hand assessment of the situation on the ground.

In his acceptance speech, soon after he was appointed as the Special US Representative for the troubled region by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [Images], Holbrooke termed the Pakistan situation as extremely complex.

"I don't think I would advance our goals if I tried to discuss it today," he said on Thursday in the presence of President Barack Obama [Images] and Vice President Joe Biden, besides Clinton, at a function held at the State Department headquarters.

"I wish to get out to the region and report back to the Secretary, the Vice President, and the President," Holbrooke said, indicating his intention to leave for Afghanistan and Pakistan as soon as possible.

Announcing his appointment, Clinton said in this new capacity Holbrooke will coordinate across the entire government an effort to achieve United States' strategic goals in the region.

This effort will be closely coordinated with the United States Agency for International Development, the Defence Department and the National Security Council, she asserted.

Holbrooke said in putting Afghanistan and Pakistan together under one envoy, "we should underscore that we fully respect the fact that Pakistan has its own history, its own traditions, and it is far more than the turbulent, dangerous tribal areas on its western border."                                            

The Special Representative said Afghanistan and Pakistan are two very distinct countries with extraordinarily different histories, and yet intertwined by geography, ethnicity, and the current drama.

Acknowledging that this is a very difficult assignment, he said, "Nobody can say the war in Afghanistan has gone well, and yet, as we speak here today, American men and women and their coalition partners are fighting a very difficult struggle against a ruthless and determined enemy without any scruples at all, an enemy that is willing to behead women who dare to teach in a school to young girls, an enemy that has done some of the most odious things on Earth."

"And across the border lurks the greater enemy still, the people who committed the atrocities of September 11, 2001," Holbrooke said in an apparent reference to the safe haven in the border regions of Pakistan.

"We know what our long-term objective is. I hope I will be able to fill out the mandate which Secretary Clinton has mentioned to help coordinate a clearly chaotic foreign assistance programme, which must be pulled together, to work closely with General Petraeus, CENTCOM, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General McKiernan and the command in Afghanistan, to create a more coherent programme," he said.

"If our resources are mobilised and coordinated and pulled together, we can quadruple, quintuple, multiply by tenfold the effectiveness of our efforts there," Holbrooke hoped.




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