Richard Holbrooke: We cannot treat Afghanistan in isolation from Pakistan

Share
Related Topics

The situation is bad today, when it shouldn't be, because the international community, including, I regret to say, the United States, perhaps especially the United States, prematurely decided that they were doing okay and refocused their attention on Iraq. That has proved to be a historic mistake. Twice in the last 20 years the United States has turned away from Afghanistan, in 1989 and again around 2003. We cannot make that mistake again.

Let's start with the macro point. The international community has 60,000 or more troops in Afghanistan now, and more are on their way. The US is sending an additional 17,000, there are other countries that are going to increase, and I hope they will do so, and we have a vast increase in civilian resources underway. But the actual people who pose a direct threat to the countries represented in this room, the people who planned 9/11, who killed Benazir Bhutto, who committed the atrocities in Mumbai, who were terrorising Swat, who probably were associated with the attack on the cricket team in Lahore, who are associated with daily outrages – they are not in Afghanistan. They're in Pakistan; in the western so-called tribal areas, although it also extends down into Baluchistan.

This is a tremendous dilemma, because the troops are fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban, but the Taliban are like the outriders for the international terrorists, al-Qa'ida and its supporters, who pose the direct threat to the international community. So we cannot ignore Pakistan and we must recognise the inexorable link. This does not mean the Taliban can be ignored, because if they succeed, al-Qa'ida will come back into Afghanistan and have a much larger and freer terrain in which to operate.

So while we pursue the battle against the Taliban, we must recognise that the heart of the threat comes from the people in western Pakistan. When they take over Swat, they are less than 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad. So the starting point for the new administration's approach to the region is going to be to treat it as an integrated whole, a single theatre of war, with very different rules on each side of the border.



Taken from remarks by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Brussels Forum 2009

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A woman runs down the street  

Should wolf-whistling be reported to the Police? If you're Poppy Smart, then yes

Jane Merrick
 

Voices in Danger: How can we prevent journalists from being sexually assaulted in conflict zones?

Heather Blake
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?