are many anti-American and closet al Qaeda supporters
hoping that President Barack Obama would stumble over
Afghanistan which now appears to be one of his biggest
foreign challenges. In a recent interview with Larry
King, former American President Bill Clinton was asked
whether Afghanistan would be Barack Obama's Vietnam.
Clinton should know best, Hillary Clinton the Foreign
Secretary being his wife.
reply was that while it could be 'theoretically
possible,' he did not think it would happen.
Afghanistan, he pointed out was 'a sink hole' for many
countries with its big, tough terrain, rugged people
and borders impossible to control.
Obama tried to do what the British did in the 19th
Century - literally govern the country or what the
Soviet Union tried to do in the 1980s - run it through a puppet
government then it could become a
Vietnam. But it was not going to happen with David
Petraeus, one of the 'smartest generals' and the most
successful diplomat in the modern era David Holbrooke
working together to craft a military/diplomatic
strategy with strong support from the former Defence
Secretary Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton
and Pakistan seem to be in chaos in President Barack
Obama's first month in office but one month is hardly
enough time for any president to come to grips with
problems of such magnitude.
Obama's policy for Afghanistan appears to be a regional
strategy where he sees a nexus between the neighbouring
countries - Iran, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
Already Richard Holbrooke has been visiting the
turbulent region where in his own words, he has been
'listening' and not doing the talking. It is certainly a
tough assignment for Ambassador Holbrooke because much
of the region's volatile countries are now close to
Afghanistan Hamid Karzai the Afghan president who cut a
charismatic figure in American diplomatic circles has
not hit it off with Barack Obama. Reports say that the
Obama administration considers him corrupt and
inefficient and Obama has not been in contact with him
as regularly as President George Bush had been. The
Afghan presidential elections are only months ahead and
a possible successor to Karzai - acceptable to the US -
is not on the horizon.
Ban on Nawaz Sharif
Pakistan which has been America's most long-standing
ally in the region, the situation is slipping from bad
to worse. Last week the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled
that Nawaz Sharif the most powerful opposition leader in
the country and his brother Shabaz, the Chief Minister
of Punjab, were not eligible to hold political office
because of their previous convictions on charges of
hijacking. Shariff has been prime minister of the
country twice and his brother holds power in the Punjab
province, the most powerful province in the country.
these comments are being written Nawaz Sharif has called
out his political supporters on to the streets, the
worst thing that could happen to this country which is
wracked by Taliban and fundamental Islamic violence.
President Asif Zardari though elected to power after the
assassination of Benazir Bhutto is said to be the most
unpopular politician in Pakistan - a recent popularity
poll giving him only 19 per cent.
week in this column we wrote on the threat of
Talibanisation of Pakistan. The government two weeks ago
gave into the demand to permit the operation of Sharia
law in a region known as the Swat Valley only 100 miles
away from the capital
Islamabad. It is a widely held view that this was capitulation by
the government to demands of the Pakistani Taliban on
the assurance that they would ensure restoration of
peace in the valley.
United States which views with alarm the Talibanisation
of Pakistan has condemned this move as a capitulation of
the government to the Taliban. The Sharia law is highly
controversial with specific restrictions placed on women
especially girls attending schools.
Pakistanis by and large value the democratic way of
life and at elections, even in regions close to the
North Western regions, have voted against extremist
parties. The Pakistani government is being made to
capitulate to the extremist violence of the Taliban.
While some commentators claim it is not an immediate
threat even, President Zardari had confessed to the
growing power of Taliban across the country.
According to reports President Obama's actions in
Afghanistan in his first month have left most Pakistanis
and even Afghans disappointed particularly on the firing
of missiles from unmanned aircraft into civilian areas.
While NATO troops claim that as much as 20 al Qaeda
leaders have been killed by this rocket fire into
civilian areas, reports say that it is driving thousands
of Pakistanis to join the forces of the Taliban in sheer
disgust of attacks being made by an ally of the country.