Pakistan's concerns over US plan

Pakistani government wary of US President Barack Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan.

    Pakistani government officials have expressed concern about President Barack Obama's new Afghan strategy, which calls for Pakistan to step up its co-operation against the Taliban in exchange for a pledge of a long-term partnership.

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    The Pakistani foreign affairs ministry issued a cautious response on Wednesday that stressed the "need for clarity" in the new US policy.

    "Pakistan looks forward to engaging closely with [the] US in understanding the full importance of the new strategy and to ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan," the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "Pakistan and the US need to closely co-ordinate their efforts to achieve shared objectives. There is certainly the need for clarity and co-ordination on all aspects of the implementation of the strategy."

    In an address to unveil a new strategy for the eight-year conflict in Afghanistan, Obama said on Tuesday a cancer had taken root in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan and promised US help to end it.

    Security concerns

    Obama's announcement has raised fears that Pakistan could be further destabilised by a reinvigorated military campaign in next-door Afghanistan, complicating Islamabad's own battle against the Taliban.

    In depth

      Video: Civilians flee Pakistani army offensive
      Video: Security crisis in Pakistan
      Video: Pakistan army HQ attacked
      Profile: Pakistan Taliban
      Witness: Pakistan in crisis
      Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan
      Blog: School's out

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the first reinforcements will land in southern Afghanistan by Christmas,  kicking off an 18-month surge that the administration plans to begin reversing in July 2011 when it transfers responsibility to the Afghan government.

    A growing tide of bombings and suicide attacks, meanwhile, have killed hundreds of people in Pakistan in the past several months since the Pakistani army launched a major offensive against Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Islamabad was shaken by a suicide bombing at the entrance to National Naval Headquarters in a highly guarded area.

    A teenage boy blew himself up as a guard approached him. Officials said the blast killed the bomber and two guards.

    Pakistan fears a US troop surge in Afghanistan would force fighters to flee to its border areas, particularly in the southwestern Baluchistan province where the government is already struggling to end a low-level insurgency by tribal fighters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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