Washington: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has acknowledged that Taliban, with whom the Government reached a truce deal in the restive Swat valley days ago, are “murderous thugs and militants” who “pose a danger to Pakistan, the US and India“.
US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, who is just back from Pakistan, told media: “He (Zardari) doesn’t disagree that the people who are running Swat now are murderous thugs and militants and they pose a danger not only to Pakistan, but to the United States and India”.
US voices strong concerns over Swat truce deal
The United States has conveyed strong concern to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari over the truce deal with a Taliban-linked group for enforcing Shariah law in the restive Swat Valley.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are worried that this deal should not turn into a surrender to the Taliban militants, Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke told Zardari in a telephonic conversation on Thursday.
In an interview to Wolf Blitzer of the media, Holbrooke said that he expressed the US concern over the peace deal as it gives the Taliban the authority in a critically important part of the country.
“It’s hard to understand this deal in Swat, the area you’re talking about, less than 100 miles from the capital in Islamabad. President Zardari says it’s an interim arrangement while they stabilize the situation,” he said.
“He (Zardari) doesn’t disagree that the people who are running Swat now are murderous thugs and militants and they pose a danger not only to Pakistan, but to the United States and India,” Holbrooke said.
When specifically asked by Blitzer if Zardari gave him any commitment, Holbrooke said: “That I don’t know. But the issue isn’t whether he signs the deal or not, the issue is the negotiations themselves.” Over the US’ concern that the deal might turn into a surrender, “President Zardari has assured us that’s not the case. He is sending a very high level delegation, including the Foreign Minister. Several senior military officials, General Kayani will be in town, the head of ISI will be in town next week, the Afghans are sending their group,” he said.
“I can assure you, and President Zardari knows this, that this will be the top initial subject of conversation,” he said.
Holbrooke said the increase in US troops in Afghanistan would turn the tide. “But I cannot tell you for sure what will happen after that because there are many other variables. This is a war that includes political components, military components, and the president has asked us to give them a full-scale strategic review, which we’re doing now,” he said.
“We are going to try to revamp strategy in a way that upgrades the civilian and economic and reconstruction components. Above all we’ve got to deal with Pakistan. We have to stem the deterioration in the tribal areas,” Holbrooke said.
As the Obama Administration is currently doing a review of its Afghan policy, Holbrooke said the increase in troops is compatible with where the strategic review is going. Next week the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are sending very significant delegations to participate in the strategic review. “I think that’s moving forward very rapidly,” he said.