US needs to put ‘most heavy possible pressure’ on Pakistan: Holbrooke

May 6th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Richard Holbrooke By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 6 (IANS) The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, has said that the US needs to put the heaviest possible pressure on Pakistan to join in the fight against Taliban and other extremists threatening its very existence.

“We need to put the most heavy possible pressure on our friends in Pakistan to join us in the fight against the Taliban and its allies,” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday noting that Pakistan’s survival as a moderate, democratic state is critical to US national security.

“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s support and involvement,” he said.

Testifying ahead of meetings between President Barack Obama and Presidents Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, he sought to reassure lawmakers that the Pakistani government is not on the verge of collapse, but does require greater US backing.

“We have the highest strategic interests in supporting this government,” he said. “We should not allow comments about how serious the issue is to be confused with predictions of a collapse. We do not think Pakistan is a failed state. We think it’s a state under extreme test from … enemies who are also our enemies.”

“There is a real and present danger to Pakistan’s survival but it comes from inside and not outside the country,” Holbrooke said.

Holbrooke also dismissed US media reports that the Obama administration is backing away from its support for embattled Zardari as he is tested by Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists.

“Our goal must be unambiguously to support and help stabilise a democratic Pakistan headed by its elected president,” he said.

“I read in the newspapers that the administration is distancing itself from President Zardari in favor of his leading political opponent (Nawaz Sharif). … That’s simply not true. We have not distanced ourself from President Zardari.”

Zardari and Karzai spent much of the day visiting key congressional leaders and policymakers in advance of meetings with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The visits are part of what Holbrooke characterised as an unprecedented series of trilateral meetings aimed at coordinating strategy in the region.

Holbrooke argued that questions about Pakistan’s stability do not indicate a withdrawal of American support.

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