News / USA

Richard Holbrooke Difficult to Replace, Say Leaders in South Asia

The late U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visits Pakistani children who survived floods and live in a camp in southern Sindh province, Pakistan, September, 2010.
The late U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visits Pakistani children who survived floods and live in a camp in southern Sindh province, Pakistan, September, 2010.

Leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan says they are deeply sorrowed by the sudden death of Richard Holbrooke, the United States special envoy for the two countries.

Since becoming the President Barack Obama's Special Representive for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke made frequent trips to the violence-plagued region for talks on how to defeat Islamic militancy and ensure economic stability in both the neighboring countries.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit says Holbrooke was instrumental in bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan together, while making intensive efforts to strengthen Washington's ties with Islamabad. It will be difficult to fill the vacuum his sudden death has created, says Basit.

"I do not think that the aid and the momentum which has been created by him in the context of Pakistan-U.S. relations would be allowed to lose its momentum. I think both our countries, our governments are very committed to keep this relationship forward," he says. "I think this is a legacy of Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Holbrooke very much wanted this relationship to grow so I think we would be doing all that could be done to sustain the legacy of Mr. Holbrooke."

Mr. Basit says he believes the late American diplomat's input will be instrumental in the review of the U.S. Afghan strategy President Obama is due to make public later this month.

"Nobody can deny the fact that Mr. Holbrooke had been playing a pivotal role in the context of Afghanistan," Basit says. "He was a major voice in giving direction to the U.S. strategy in dealing with the issues relating to Afghanistan. His involvement in the whole process was so intense and deep that he would be missed for a long time to come."

In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said his government has a good strategic relationship with the United States and is deeply sorrowed by Holbrooke's death.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai considered the American envoy ignorant of Afghan culture and sometimes refused to meet him. The relationship between the two men had been uneasy since they clashed over allegations of widespread rigging in last year's presidential election that won Mr. Karzai a new term in office.

But analysts say Afghanistan and Pakistan will miss Holbrooke, who had developed a very good understanding with officials and civil society groups in both countries. Tanveer Ahmed Khan is a former Pakistani diplomat and the head of Islamabad's Institute of Strategic Studies.

"He was one of the strong voices in Washington for helping Afghanistan and Pakistan in the economic field, in reconstruction so that the causes of militancy, intolerance, extremism that they would also be tackled," Khan says. 

Holbrooke played a key role in persuading the Obama administration to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and to provide more aid for development projects in order to reverse Taliban gains in the battlefield. But during his last trip to Islamabad in mid-November, the late U.S diplomat gave an open ended answer to the question of whether the strategy was producing results.

"First of all, I think you will know the success of the strategy, it will be evident if it works in the diminishing of violence, in the ability of people to resume their normal lives, in the decline of military incidents and the departure or disappearance of people fighting with the Taliban," Holbrooke said. "So I think that success will define itself and demonstrate itself."

But Holbrooke added an improved relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital to defeat terrorism.

"If the Afghan and the Pakistani governments do not work together there is no possibility of success and an end to this war," he said. "The enemy can always exploit the border, they can move across the border. The two countries have to work together to solve this problem. That is simply self evident."

Taliban insurgents have stepped up attacks on NATO and U.S forces in Afghanistan and the number of foreign troops killed this year in conflict-related incidents has been the highest since the war began in 2001.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs