Archive for the ‘President’ Category

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Afghan Crunch Time: Obama Must Decide Whether To Talk To The Taliban

April 27, 2010

Ahmed Rashid

Before President Hamid Karzai arrives in Washington next month, President Obama has to make clear key decisions on the course of war and peacemaking in Afghanistan.

Neighboring countries and most Afghans believe that the endgame has begun for a post-U.S. Afghanistan. There are just 14 months for the U.S. military surge to show results while Washington simultaneously prepares to begin its July 2011 troop withdrawal and handover to the Afghan government. Already, efforts to jockey for future control of Afghanistan have been seen among Pakistan, India, Iran and even Russia. Several NATO countries eager to withdraw forces are frustrated. It is clear in the region that someone will have to mediate with the Taliban, but in the absence of U.S. leadership, a tug of war is taking place over who will do it, when, how and where.

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Obama’s Disregard For Media Reaches New Heights At Nuclear Summit

April 14, 2010

Dana Milbank

World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.

They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard truck.

In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama’s eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”

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Afghan Officials Say Pakistan’s Arrest Of Taliban Leader Threatens Peace Talks

April 10, 2010

Joshua Partlow and Karen de Young

KABUL — Senior Afghan officials are now criticizing as counterproductive the arrest in Pakistan this year of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 Taliban official. Its main effect, the Afghan officials say, has been to derail Afghan-led efforts to secure peace talks with the Taliban, making that peace ever more remote.

The episode offers a window into the mutual suspicions that still divide Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly because of Pakistan’s long history of support for the Taliban, as well as differences between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States about how best to seek reconciliation between insurgents and the Afghan government.

Senior Afghan officials in the military and presidential palace accuse Pakistan of orchestrating the arrest of Baradar and others to take down Taliban leaders most amenable to negotiations. Some of them say that Afghans had been in secret contact with Baradar before his arrest and that he was prepared to join the 1,400 people descending on Kabul next month for a peace conference. Despite Afghan requests, Pakistan has refused to hand over Baradar and other Taliban leaders.

Pakistani officials flatly deny that they intended to derail Taliban talks. Such an allegation, one Pakistani intelligence official said, is a “slur on us.”

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Karzai Threatens To Join Taliban

April 6, 2010

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, according to several members of parliament.

They said on Monday that Karzai made the unusual statement at a closed-door meeting on Saturday with selected lawmakers — just days after kicking up a diplomatic controversy with remarks alleging foreigners were behind fraud in last year’s disputed elections.

Lawmakers dismissed the latest comment as hyperbole, but it will add to the impression the president — who relies on tens of thousands of US and NATO forces to fight the insurgency and prop up his government — is growing increasingly erratic and unable to exert authority without attacking his foreign backers.

“He said that ‘if I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban’,” said Farooq Marenai, who represents the eastern province of Nangarhar.

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Pakistan Has Secured Its Nukes, Says Obama

April 6, 2010

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said he is confident that Pakistan has secured its nuclear weapons.

Obama, however, reiterated that he was concerned about global nuclear security, not just in Pakistan.

In an interview with the New York Times, President Obama said his new approach to nuclear non-proliferation is different from that of the Bush administration.

Obama is scheduled to announce the new US policy for non-proliferation later Tuesday.

When asked what he had done specifically to ensure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons’ safety, Obama said he was not going to divulge details about Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Obama explained that his biggest concerns were about securing loose nuclear material, which the terrorists were more likely to obtain

A nuclear summit is scheduled to be held in the US capital on April 12 and 13, aimed at achieving a global consensus on limiting proliferation and preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear technology.

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Rice, Karzai Linked To Bhutto Probe?

April 3, 2010

UNITED NATIONS, April 2 (UPI) — Afghan and U.S. leaders should be grilled by a U.N. panel examining the assassination of Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, her husband said.

Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, was killed Dec. 27, 2007, following a campaign rally for her Pakistan People’s Party. She had returned to Pakistan from exile to run in January 2008 parliamentary elections.

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How Strategic Was The Washington Dialogue?

March 30, 2010

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi

Pakistan’s decision-makers should draw an important lesson from the talks. Given the limits on Washington’s capacity to address Pakistan’s concerns – just as there are constraints on Pakistan’s ability to support all of America’s geo-strategic interests – Islamabad needs to change its US-centric mindset, learn to mobilise its own resources, rather than look to Washington to solve all its problems and fashion a foreign policy that is in sync with the multipolar world we live in.

Aimed at setting a new strategic direction for Pakistan-US relations and overcoming mutual mistrust, the recent talks in Washington were more significant for their atmospherics than any tangible outcome. Dialogue, of course, is a process, not an event. But the expectations raised by both sides about the fourth round had exceeded what was achieved in the two-day talks.

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