Taliban offences enraging Pakistanis: Holbrooke

June 11th, 2009 - 9:44 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 11(IANS) Taliban offences in Pakistan are dramatically changing the attitude of the government and people there, says US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

“My impression is that this is enraging the population,” he told reporters here Wednesday mentioning the bombing of the Pearl Hotel in Peshawar Tuesday by “some terrorists” as an example. “It’s not going to work provided the government gives the necessary security.”

Holbrooke, back from a trip last week to Pakistan, said the US has been impressed by the actions of the Pakistani military, but the military knows the “test is still to come.”

He said the Pakistani government and military must be able to ensure the return of nearly two million refugees who were forced from their homes in the Swat Valley and provide security for them.

“Those camps and those temporary facilities cannot harden into a permanent refugee settlement, as has happened in so many other parts of the world,” he said.

When asked if the military will be able to hold Swat, Holbrooke would not predict. “Let’s see,” he said.

Holbrooke visited two of the tent areas where refugees are living-Shah Mansur in Swabi province and Sheikh Shahzad in Mardan province. He said he came away with the impression that the people were outraged.

“They really understand why the military came in,” he said. “They want the Taliban out. They hate them, and they think they have destroyed this piece of heaven, which was Swat.”

As a result of this, he said, the Pakistani military feels it has the support of the people for their operations.

Holbrooke stressed the need for more relief funds from other nations because the US, he said, is taking on too much of the burden. So far, the US has contributed more than $310 million to the relief effort-more than half of total international assistance.

After his Pakistan stop, Holbrooke visited the Gulf states of Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain to line up their support for relief and reconstruction efforts. “This is a major, major crisis,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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