Obama unveils sweeping new Afghan war strategy, includes Iran in Afghan contact group: Qaeda ‘cancer’ can devour Pakistan
* US president indicates Washington will act on intelligence against terrorists if Islamabad does not
* Calls Pakistan’s border areas with Afghanistan most dangerous place in world
* Claims Osama, Zawahiri in Pakistan
Daily Times, March 28, 2009
WASHINGTON: Unveiling a sweeping new strategy for the Afghan war – US President Barack Obama warned on Friday that Al Qaeda was a cancer that could devour Pakistan.
“Al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the US from safe havens in Pakistan ... to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is ... we will defeat you.” “We will insist that action be taken ... one way or another,” he said, indicating that the US would act on intelligence against terrorists if Pakistan does not.
He said Pakistan and Afghanistan were inextricably linked. Obama said the US military would also shift the emphasis of its mission to training and expanding the Afghan army.
Obama plans to send 4,000 more US soldiers to train the Afghan army, along with hundreds of civilian personnel. The US would also step up military and financial aid to Pakistan. “The situation is increasingly perilous,” said Obama in a sombre speech.
Obama said that together with the UN, the US would form a ‘contact group’ – including Iran, Russia, India and China – bringing together countries with a stake in the region’s security.
He said his strategy had one “clear and focused goal – to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
“For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world ... the safety of the world is at stake.” “This [area along Pak-Afghan border] almost certainly includes ... Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri ... Pakistan’s government must be a stronger partner in destroying these safe havens,” he said. Obama set no timetable for the strategy, but said the US would set benchmarks for the Afghan government.
He said the key to defeating Al Qaeda was strengthening the civilian government of Pakistan. He said he would triple US aid to over five years and attempt to peel away more moderate Taliban factions. But he said, “We will not provide a blank check [to Pakistan].” agencies
key points of afghan strategy
* Disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda terrorists and their safe havens in Pakistan
* Triple US aid to Pakistan to $7.5bn over 5 years
* Help Afghan govt rely on itself while better and more honestly ensuring its people’s security
* Build up and train the Afghan security forces
* Boost civilian govt in Pakistan and strengthen economic opportunities for Pakistanis
* Urge UN to take a lead role in generating world assistance for Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Overhaul the way US foreign aid is managed, funded and allocated
* Set up a new contact group on Afghanistan, including Iran
* Ensure that aid to Afghanistan is accompanied by steps to ensure greater govt accountability
* Send US engineers, agricultural and other experts to Afghanistan to help counterparts
* Encourage Afghan govt in its efforts to convince moderate Taliban to lay down their weapons
* Strengthen efforts to build Pakistani security forces capable of defeating terrorists
Obama sets al-Qaeda defeat as top goal in Afghanistan, Pakistan - The News
Pakistan ‘most daunting’ in new plan: Holbrooke - Dawn
Pakistani intelligence backing Al-Qaeda, Taliban - AFP
ANALYSIS-Obama move faces obstacles in Pakistan - Reuters
Pakistan pessimism at Obama revamp - BBC