News

    US Envoy Says Public Opinion Swings Against Taliban in Pakistan

    The Obama administration's special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, says there is a backlash of Pakistani public opinion against the Taliban because of its attempted seizure of the Swat Valley and acts of terrorism. But Holbrooke says the needs of Pakistanis displaced in recent fighting must be urgently addressed.

    Holbrooke, who visited Pakistan last week for a first-hand look at fighting-related humanitarian needs, says he observed a dramatic change in public opinion there because of what he called the "outrages" of the Taliban and their supporters.

    But the U.S. envoy warns that the consensus building in favor of the Pakistani government and its crackdown against extremists might be short-lived unless authorities can meet the needs of the hundreds-of-thousands of people displaced by the recent fighting, get people back to their homes and restore security.

    Speaking with reporters here, Holbrooke said the Islamabad government faces a "daunting task" of dealing with internal refugees in addition to the country's economic problems. He stressed the need for quick action on aid to Pakistan by the U.S. Congress and American allies in Europe and the Persian Gulf region.

    Holbrooke met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and key military leaders last week and said he found "new determination" on their part to deal with the Taliban and other extremists. He also noted the outrage among the displaced Pakistanis he met.

    "When you talk to them, and I need to stress this, they really understand why the military came in. They want the Taliban out. They hate them and they think they have destroyed this piece of heaven, which was [the] Swat [Valley]," said Holbrooke.

    But Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a Balkans peace envoy, made clear that long-term success for Pakistani authorities depends on restoring security and normal life in the Swat Valley and neighboring areas devastated by the recent fighting.

    "I want to stress that the refugees must be able to return. Those camps and those temporary facilities cannot harden into a permanent refugee settlement as has happened in so many parts of the world," said Holbrooke. "So the test is not simply the military phase, but the ability of the government to get those people back into their homes as quickly as possible and provide them security."

    While in Pakistan, Holbrooke announced an additional pledge of $200 million for humanitarian aid that pushed the total U.S. commitment in the current crisis to more than $300 million, more than half of the total sought by the United Nations in a worldwide aid appeal.

    The U.S. envoy cautioned that similar amounts will be needed for reconstruction.

    Holbrooke visited several wealthy Persian Gulf states to discuss Pakistani needs after leaving Islamabad. He would not say whether those countries committed to new aid, but he added that he could "say with confidence" that all of the Gulf states share with the United States "a similar view on the strategic importance of Pakistan."


    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora