One last post, February 8, 2009
AFTERWORD : THE HEADLESS POLE AND OTHERS
Yesterday the Taliban released a video showing the beheading of a Polish engineer, kidnapped from Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Provinces. Just before he was killed, he pleaded with his government not to send troops to Afghanistan.
The Taliban has threatened to execute other foreigners that they have abducted, if Pakistan does not release detainees arrested by the military.
The Pakistani government is for now mulling over the findings handed over by India from its probe into the Mumbai attacks last December, with the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani promising results later today.
New Delhi says those responsible were aided by the ISI, though Islamabad disputes the involvement of its intelligence agency. It also claims that the attacks were planned in Pakistan and the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible. These are also being refuted by Islamabad and the group respectively, though Pakistan has now acknowledged that the sole surviving gunman is a Pakistani.
Clearly this is not a good time - if there is even any - to be Pakistan in this geopolitical drama playing out right now.
Speaking to the 45th Munich Security Conference, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi assured that,
"The territory of Pakistan will not be used for terrorist activities, while our sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected."
At the same conference and making his point a day after US Vice President Joe Biden outlined the Obama foreign policy goals, the new administration's appointed Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke noted that Pakistan's situation is "dire".
"It needs international assistance, international sympathy and international support."
It is the opinion of General Petraeus adopted now by the Obama adminstration that the Afghan problem cannot be resolved isolated.
"All the neighbours... play a direct role and we're going to look for more of a regional approach," stressed Holbrooke.
The former US Ambassador to the United Nations, and a seasoned diplomat, also did not hold back when he said, ""It is like no other problem we have confronted, and in my view it's going to be much tougher than Iraq."
And in case his audience missed the point on Afghanistan, he added "I have never seen anything remotely resembling the mess we have inherited."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was slightly more encouraging when he stated that “Afghanistan has moved considerably in the past seven years from no government to a much better government... Afghanistan never was a failed state. Afghanistan was a destroyed state.”
In helping to restore this "destroyed state", General Petraeus told the conference,
“I would be remiss if I did not ask individual countries to examine very closely what forces and other contributions they can provide.”
There is roles to play in this drama that is Afghanistan, and the actors are going to have to improvise as they go along.