Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Obama Wins Afghan?

US President Obama won a fresh promise from the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday to work together to defeat al Qaeda, and vowed he would make "every effort" to avoid civilian deaths.Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari came to Washington after heavy criticism of their efforts to combat a Taliban resurgence in their countries.

After their talks Obama said both men "fully appreciate the seriousness of the threat" posed by al Qaeda and their allies.Despite the warm words, the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians this week, possibly in U.S.-led air strikes, cast a shadow on the talks."The road ahead will be difficult. There will be more violence and there will be setbacks," Obama said, with Karzai and Zardari at his side in the Grand Foyer of the White House.

The United States has made a lasting commitment to defeat al Qaeda but also to support the democratically elected sovereign governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. That commitment will not waiver and that support will be sustained.The Red Cross said dozens of Afghans died in U.S.-led air strikes in Farah province this week while local officials said more than 100 civilians may have been killed.If that figure is confirmed it would make it among the deadliest incidents involving Afghan civilians since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered her deep regret for the incident, without implying U.S. responsibility for it. An American official, who asked not to be named, said it appeared that U.S. bombing may have caused the deaths.The Obama administration has sharply criticized both Karzai and Zardari in the past, questioning their commitment and capability to tackle the threat from al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Civilian casualties caused by U.S. military operations in both countries, including drone strikes inside Pakistan, have infuriated many Afghans and Pakistanis and made it harder for both countries' leaders to cooperate with the United States.Later she called that meeting "in some ways a breakthrough" and said she was "very optimistic" the process was making a difference.Obama announced a new approach to the fight against al Qaeda in both countries in late March, offering more aid but also more than 20,000 extra troops to Afghanistan this year.


L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I guess that is what history books will say. I dont think the Afghanis have time for writing any of it. They are just busy trying to live.