Zardari seeks to inject Kashmir into Holbrooke brief

January 28th, 2009 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 28 (IANS) While the US made it clear that its new special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan has no mandate to deal with Kashmir, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has sought to inject the issue into his brief.”The situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India is indeed critical, but its severity actually presents an opportunity for aggressive and innovative action,” he wrote in an article in the Washington Post Wednesday.

Noting that Pakistan has repeatedly been identified as the most critical external problem facing the new Barack Obama administration, Zardari said new US envoy Richard Holbrooke “surely understands that peace in our region can be secured only by addressing long-term and neglected problems”.

Comparing Kashmir with the Palestine issue, he said: “Much as the Palestinian issue remains the core obstacle to peace in the Middle East, the question of Kashmir must be addressed in some meaningful way to bring stability to this region.”

“We hope that the special envoy will work with India and Pakistan not only to bring a just and reasonable resolution to the issues of Kashmir and Jammu but also to address critical economic and environmental concerns,” Zardari added.

Raising another issue, the Pakistani president suggested, “The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India.”

“Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism,” Zardari wrote, applauding President Obama’s desire to engage “our nation and India to defuse the tensions between us”.

Claiming Pakistan’s new democracy “has pried open the clenched fists of the extremists, to use a metaphor from President Obama’s inaugural address”, Zardari asked the new administration to give it the tools to get the job done.

Over the past several months, remarkable progress has been made in the battle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Zardari said. “Measures include repeated air strikes by our F-16s and targeted ground assaults.”

“We are willing to act to save our nation,” he said.

But “to the extent that we are unable to fully execute battle plans, we urge the United States to give us necessary resources - upgrading our equipment and providing the newest technology - so that we can fight the terrorists proactively on our terms, not reactively on their terms”.

“Give us the tools, and we will get the job done,” Zardari said.

He also asked Obama to encourage the Congress to pass the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act making a multi-year, $1.5 billion annual commitment to social progress in Pakistan describing it as “the greatest tool we could wield against extremism”.

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