US 'troubled,' 'confused' over Pak-Taliban peace treaty

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 19, 2009 12:00 hrs

Washington: The US has said that it was "troubled" and "confused" over the latest developments in the restive Swat valley where Pakistan government has conceded to the Taliban's demand for imposition of Shariah law.

"We are troubled and confused in the sense about what happened in Swat, because it is not an encouraging trend," said Richard Holbrooke, Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, breaking the administation's cautious approach on the peace deal between the Pakistan government and the Taliban.

Pakistan journalist killed in Swat Valley

Having just returned from South Asia wherein he met leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, Holbrooke said the Pakistanis are shocked at the fall of the picturesque Swat, which is after all a resort they all went to for vacations.

"So we have a situation in the area which is very serious. This is what we inherited," he said.

"Previous ceasefires have broken down and we do not want to see territory ceded to the bad guys. The people who took over Swat are very bad people," Holbrooke told the PBS news channel in an interview.

'Osama may be hiding in Pakistan'

The US will convey its concern to Pakistan over the peace deal during next week's visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

A Qureshi-delegation will hold discussions with officials and participate in the Afghan review process.

"The military would be represented in the Foreign Minister Qureshi's delegation, and you can be sure that this issue would be pursued at very high levels in our dialogue next week," Holbrooke said.

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton has been guarded in her approach, saying that Islamabad's efforts still needed to be "thoroughly understood" before making any comments.

Asked if the Pakistani military and the ISI are willing to make commitments in the publicly announced goal of Pakistan's president to get rid of the Taliban, Holbrooke said it is too early to arrive at any conclusion.

"This is a very important question, which we are exploring in depth now. I have rarely seen an issue in Washington, which is so hotly disputed internally by experts and intelligence officials," he said.

"We are engaged in very intense discussion with the military leadership of Pakistan and the ISI about this particular issue," he said.

The Obama administration is concerned over the volatile situation in Afghanistan, especially along the Pak-Afghan border.

On Tuesday, Obama responded by boosting the US military presence in Afghanistan by 50 per cent, announcing plans to send an additional 17,000 troops to a 30,000 force contingent already there.

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