US shifts focus to the root of terrorism: Pakistan

March 28th, 2009 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 28 (IANS) Viewing Pakistan as the root of the security problem in the region, the United States has clearly shifted the focus of its war on terrorism to Pakistan.

The cornerstone of the new US counter terrorism strategy announced Friday by President Barack Obama is a regional approach, National Security Gen James Jones said. “And for the first time, we will treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries, but as with one challenge in one region.”

“Our strategy focuses more intensively on Pakistan than in the past, and this is normal, because it’s a newer problem,” he said. “This calls for more significant increases in US and international support, both economic and military, linked to performance against terror.”

The US, Jones said, will pursue intensive regional diplomacy involving all key players in South Asia and engage with Afghanistan, Pakistan in a new trilateral framework at the highest levels.

Asked if Pakistan is the root of the security problem, Gen Jones simply said: “Yeah.”

Washington’s relation with Pakistan, “is one that is - I would characterize as in a restart mode; that is to say that we are having very intensive dialogues. We’re building trust and confidence between the armed forces,” he said.

The US recognized that there is a lot of work to do in Pakistan, “But the president really believes that the efforts that we undertake in Pakistan are extremely important and will materially effect, you know, how, ultimately, Afghanistan turns out and how the region itself turns out.”

At a separate White House briefing, Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and Middle East and South Asia expert, who chaired the White House review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, said: “Al Qaeda operates within a very sophisticated syndicate of terrorist organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Obama wants to make sure that this mission has a focus and a clear, concise goal, he said. “And that goal, as he spelled it out, is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda, and to ensure that their safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot threaten the United States anymore.”

As Obama put it: “Al Qaeda has succeeded in regenerating itself over the last seven years, and it is again a threat to the United States homeland and to American influence around the world and to our allies around the world,” Riedel said.

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