News / USA

Pakistan Eyes US Drawdown in Afghanistan

Soldiers watch a rebroadcast of President Barack Obama's speech on a proposed troop withdrawal at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, June 23, 2011
Soldiers watch a rebroadcast of President Barack Obama's speech on a proposed troop withdrawal at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, June 23, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

US President Barack Obama Wednesday announced a drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan next month, with a grim warning to Pakistan: terrorist safe havens will not be tolerated.

In a nationally televised speech Wednesday, President Obama said the U.S. will withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and another 23,000 over the next 14 months with security to be handed over entirely to Afghan forces by 2014.

He also gave credit to Pakistan's government, saying it has worked with the United States to eliminate over half the leadership of al-Qaida.

But Obama also said that the U.S. must address the problem of terrorist safe-havens in Pakistan, and to work with its government to root out what he called "the cancer of violent extremism."  The U.S., he said, will insist that Pakistan's government "keep its commitments."

Pakistani analyst Professor Hassan Askari of Punjab University says that President Obama's message of both praise and warning did not go unnoticed.

"There is a recognition that with the cooperation of Pakistan, al-Qaida has been weakened in the past," said Askari.  "So there is an appreciation. But along with the appreciation there is a word of caution for Pakistan that there are safe havens in Pakistan and the U.S. would press Pakistan for action and they would be working with Pakistan to make sure that these safe havens are no longer there."

What many Pakistanis were most encouraged by is President Obama's plan for a political solution that includes negotiations with the Afghan Taliban.

In a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Minister William Hague in Islamabad, Pakistan's acting Foreign Minister Hanna Rabbani Khar said that what happens in Afghanistan will have a significant impact on Pakistan.

"Afghanistan is a country which is a sovereign country and an independent country," said Khar.  "And as neighbors, as important neighbors, as a neighbor who is going to be affected by both peace and stability and lack thereof in Afghanistan, Pakistan will stand by on any of these issues by whatever is an Afghan-owned solution, and whatever is an Afghan-led solution."

The Taliban have been pushed out of some areas of Afghanistan's southern heartland. But the insurgency has intensified along Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, which was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban-led government that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

The withdrawal of the U.S.-led NATO force from Afghanistan has regional implications, with some in the neighborhood, above all India, fearing that the influence of its neighbor and rival Pakistan could grow if the Taliban is able to regain power in Afghanistan. Pakistan, for its part, is unhappy over the degree to which India has gained influence in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.

The leaders of India and Afghanistan have sought to play down these fears. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said during a visit to Afghanistan in May that his country supports the Afghan government's efforts to negotiate with the Taliban to bring an end to the almost 10-year-old war.

Earlier this month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Pakistan and announced new measures aimed at improving security and ending the war in his country, including the creation of a joint Afghan-Pakistani Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan to negotiate with elements of the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan's leadership, for its part, has indicated that ending the war next door will go a long way towards reducing instability in the region and perhaps help repair the damaged relationship between Islamabad and Washington.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs