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'Obama should help broker peace between India, Pak'

By Lalit K Jha
January 11, 2011 11:24 IST
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United States President Barack Obama must focus on Pakistan, which is home to more terrorist groups than any other country, for success in the war against terrorism, a former Central Intelligence Agency official has said.

"This year, President Obama must focus like a laser on Pakistan. He has already promised to travel to the country in 2011," Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution said in his latest piece in The New Republican.

"He will need to bring tangible benefits in the form of reduced tariffs on trade, helicopters to fight insurgents, and the promise of constancy and consistency in our strategic dialogue. He will need to draw red lines about ending the Pakistani army's ties to terrorism," Riedel wrote.

Riedel said there is a need to re-establish cordial relations between New Delhi and Islamabad to remove the rationale for extremism in Pakistan.

"And he will need to signal our determination to (subtly) help broker a rapprochement between India and Pakistan, with the aid of key players such as Saudi Arabia and China, to remove the rationale for extremism in Pakistan and undermine the Afghan Taliban's justification for jihad," he said.

Above all, Obama will need to bring with him the conviction that America supports Pakistani democracy, and that the US will help Pakistan normalise its place in South Asia, he said.

"Benazir said it best: Democracy is the best antidote to extremism. And peace, engagement and trade with India would strengthen the advocates of democracy by ending Pakistan's obsession with its rival. That is the big idea that the US can promote a free and democratic Pakistan at peace with itself and with its neighbours. It would be good for Pakistan, for India and for America," he wrote.

Riedel said the stakes are enormous. "Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world and is home to more terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayiba than any other country," he noted.

"On virtually every global issue that matters to Americans in the 21st century, from terror to proliferation to nuclear war to the future of the global jihad, Pakistan is the crucial nation, and the place where all those issues collide in a uniquely combustible fashion," Riedel wrote in his latest piece.

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