US seeks support over Afghan ‘mess’

Envoy visits Pakistan to discuss the battle against Taliban and other armed groups.

Holbrooke says it will be "much tougher" to bring stability to the region than it was in Iraq [AFP]
Holbrooke says it will be "much tougher" to bring stability to the region than it was in Iraq [AFP]

However, Al Jazeera’s Hamish MacDonald, reporting from the Afghan capital Kabul, said there were signs that the deployment of extra US troops might have been put on hold.

“We’ve spoken to the US military in Afghanistan, and they’ve indicated to us that nothing is guaranteed … it’s all dependent on a number of factors, including approval from the new president,” he said.

The White House has made no official statement but US media reports say Barack Obama, the US president, was not pleased with preliminary plans for the troops laid by his generals.

Engaging the Taliban

Pakistan has already deployed more than 1,000 troops along its 2,500km border with Afghanistan, but the Afghan government says that force is insufficient to tackle fighters who cross the porous border to carry out attacks.


Security to dominate US envoy’s visit to Pakistan

Holbrooke will remain in Pakistan for three days before moving on to Afghanistan to continue security talks.

He told Nato and European delegates in Munich that a new approach was needed to address the situation in Afghanistan.

“What is required, in my view, is new ideas, better co-ordination within the US government, better co-ordination with our Nato allies and other concerned countries and the time to get it right.”

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, told delegates at the same conference that he wanted to engage the Taliban in the political process.

“We will invite all those Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country … to come back to their country,” Karzai said, calling on the fighters to lay down their arms.

“There is no way that we can succeed in the way we want to, in the right time, without some form of reconciliation.”

Continuing violence

Paddy Ashdown, the former UN high representative and EU envoy to Bosnia, told Al Jazeera that “sooner or later we are going to have to talk to the Taliban” but noted that fighters would be reluctant to negotiate “at the moment while they think they are winning”.

“The international community has to speak with one voice… and it hasn’t got one at the moment”

Paddy Ashdown, former UN high representative and EU envoy to Bosnia

He also criticised the international community’s policies toward both Pakistan and Afghanistan as “a mess”.

“The international community has to speak with one voice, it has to have a co-ordinated plan and it hasn’t got one at the moment,” he said.

Ashdown said that Holbrooke, who was the US envoy to the Balkans during the Kosovo conflict, “was the man for the job” of co-ordinating the global response to the region if it involved “bashing heads, particularly international heads, together”.

Holbrooke’s visit to Pakistan came as 13 people, including nine children, were killed in the northwest of the country after two mortar bombs hit a house during heavy clashes between security forces and Taliban fighters.

Also on Monday, a video appearing to show pro-Taliban fighters beheading kidnapped Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak was handed to media outlets by intermediaries.

One of three Taliban fighters who appear in the seven-minute video blamed Pakistan for the killing after it refused to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for Stanczak.

Jacek Cichocki, the Polish security services minister, said he believes the video is authentic but that final confirmation would have to wait until diplomatic and consular services receive Stanczak’s body.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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