US confident new Af-Pak strategy would work

April 1st, 2009 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 1 (IANS) President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser Jim Jones is confident the new US Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy would be successful in removing terrorist safe havens in the two countries.

“It’s extremely important that for us to be successful that we remove that safe haven of operation that insurgents have been able to navigate in, and I ‘m quite sure that with our plan right now that we’ll get there,” he said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on National Public Radio (NPR).

Asked in focusing on the situation on Afghanistan, what’s within US control to influence or change, and what’s out of its control, Jones said: “Well, what’s in our control to influence and change is our diplomacy.”

“Obviously, a sovereign nation is going to have the right of refusal, but we ‘ve already reached some accord with the Pakistani military that they would appreciate some benefit of some training,” he said.

On what was different from the approach of former President George Bush’s administration, Jones said: “The main difference in the strategic approach is that in order to deal with Afghanistan, you also have to deal with Pakistan.

“You have to deal with things as a region. The Pakistan side of the coin is the one that’s least developed because it’s the most recent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a conference of defence chiefs from Central Asia Tuesday that Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan is the US military’s top priority,

The trends in Afghanistan and Pakistan are worrisome. Violence is up in both countries, and many people in both countries identify with the Taliban. The comprehensive strategy attacks extremism where it resides, he said.

The Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan give these foreign extremists safe haven, Mullen said. “They provide them with places to train and live, and actively support them,” he said.

“It’s my view [that] if we don’t get Afghanistan right, Afghanistan becomes a safe haven again for the same group. That’s why defeating Al Qaeda is the single most important part of this strategy.”

The commander of US Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, told the conference, counter-proliferation issues in the region cannot be ignored.

While Iran’s nuclear ambitions obviously are the greatest challenge, he said, Pakistan is a nuclear power that has proliferated weapons technology in the past.

“We should be open and honest about that,” the general said. “My view is that they are very well controlled, and there are exceptional safeguards. But we have to be concerned, because were extremists to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, it would obviously be potentially catastrophic.”

Al Qaeda operates in limited numbers in southern and eastern Afghanistan, but larger numbers of the terror group are in safe havens they have established in western Pakistan, Petraeus said.

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