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Holbrooke On Pakistan


Holbrooke On Pakistan

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In early June, at U.S. President Barack Obama's personal direction, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visited Pakistan to "show American concern and support for the humanitarian crisis enveloping western Pakistan, and to offer more support." Part of that support, said Ambassador Holbrooke, is another $200 million for humanitarian relief in the north-western part of Pakistan, pending approval by the U.S. Congress. This brings the total U.S. contribution to the Pakistan relief effort to somewhere between $310 and 330 million, said Ambassador Holbrooke.

The fighting in north-western Pakistan, where government forces are attempting to drive Taliban militants out of the Swat valley and adjacent areas, has displaced more than 2 million people. Ambassador Holbrooke said that 80 to 90 percent of these people have moved into private houses and public buildings in host communities, which are now severely strained:

"And the highest priority is for these people to be able to return to their homes as quickly as possible, but – and I cannot stress this too highly – to get back, they need security. And the military is still in the process of cleaning out Swat and Buner and other areas. And that job is not yet complete."

Special Representative Holbrooke said that there is a new determination in Islamabad, reflected in the emergence of a public consensus supporting the Pakistani government’s actions. There is a growing national revulsion toward the criminal and brutal practices of Taliban groups. For the millions of victims displaced from Swat and other areas by Taliban militants, now is the critical time for civil society and the international community to come to the victims’ support. To rebuild their lives and communities will cost far more than has been pledged to the UN Humanitarian Appeal. As Ambassador Holbrooke said in an interview at a camp for displaced people, “The job is to get them home, and that requires security and assistance from the rest of the world community.”

The United States urges the international community to continue to respond generously to this humanitarian crisis and support the efforts of the Pakistani government to rid Pakistan of the Taliban militants and restore peace.

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