Archive for the ‘ Pakistanis for Peace ’ Category

Violence in Beautiful Swat Valley of Pakistan

 

The Pakistani army reported killing at least 17 Taliban militants and injuring many others in an offensive in the north western Swat Valley in Pakistan. According to some local officials many more people are dead after civilian casualties are counted in as well. The recent offensives by the Pakistan army came after recent attacks by the Taliban militants on the local population and at some local girls schools in the valley.

 

The swat valley is in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan and is a very beautiful area long been a tourist destination for Pakistanis and foreigners. With green meadows, clear lakes, and high mountains, it is a place of great natural beauty and was known as the “Switzerland of Pakistan”.Since December of 2008 most of the area is now dangerous for tourists and locals alike as attacks have continued on anyone who defies the Taliban’s strict and medieval interpretation of Islam. Since then the militants have tightened their hold on the valley by cosing girls schools, intimidating locals, setting up their own courts and execution and beheading of people in the area.

 

The army started an offensive against the Taliban in the area after the government announced it was going to regain control back from the militants. Many locals are concerned that the army and the militants are not the only ones that are becoming casualties as many innocent Pakistanis in the Swat valley are dying as well due to this violence. The areas economy is also in shambles as not only foreign tourism, but the local Pakistani tourists are staying away from this once peaceful and always beautiful part of Pakistan.

 

Reporting  by Manzer Munir for  Http://www.PakistanisforPeace.com            

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Seasoned Diplomat Appointed Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan

richard-holbrooke

On her very first day as the new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to advise him and the Pakistani government that the Obama administration has designated former US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A senior diplomat at the State department stated that it was a touch-base meeting between Clinton and Zardari but she also wanted to advise him that Pakistan would continue to be a crucial ally to the US and also a partner in fighting extremists in the region. It is noted that back in the 80’s the United States had appointed a similar envoy during the Afghan-Russian war and the individual had been instrumental in helping the Afghan resistance groups comprised of the mujhaideens fighters successful in repelling the Soviets with US and Pakistani backed assistance.

The US government terminated the special envoy position after the end of the war and the pullout of the Soviets but the incoming Obama administration is keen on reestablishing the important position.

Richard Holbrooke is seen as a very capable career diplomat very familiar with the two countries from his time as the American ambassador for the UN. He was also nominated 7 times for the Nobel Peace prize and is also the only person to have held the assistant secretary of state for two different regions of the world. He also was instrumental in brokering the peace agreement among the Bosnian warring factions that led to the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995. During Bill Clinton he was considered heavily for the Secretary of State position before eventually losing out to Madeline Albright as the head person in charge at the State department.

More recently he also served as a senior advisor for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President and is seen as a close confidant of the former first lady.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have stated that the Afghanistan and Pakistan border and the situation in the two couuntries will be one of their top foreign policy concerns. The appointment of such an experience and powerful diplomat underscores this commitment by the new administration.

Pakistanis for Peace believes that the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as the special envoy to the region is a welcome sign to a region that will be a critial focus for the US and for this new president. An accomplished and well experienced diplomat such as Mr. Holbrooke will ensure that when he talks, Kabul and Islamabad are aware that it is essentially Secretary Clinton or President Obama himself that they are conversing with and this direct link back to Washington will enable the two countries to fight the militants better. There is not just change afoot in Washington DC, the appointment of Richard Holbrook signals the arrival of a more robust and engaging US policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.

-Reporting by Manzer Munir for  www.pakistanisforpeace.com .

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