US has a year to make turnaround in Pak, Afghanistan

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Washington, Mar.27 (ANI): Key aides of the Obama administration have warned that Washington just has about a year to turn things around in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

An official said twelve months is about the time they have to show measurable progress before public support wanes and policy turns into an electoral slanging match between the Democrats and the Republicans.

President Barack Obama briefed members of Congress on Thursday about his new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is to be revealed on Friday.

Among the proposals is a plan to send 4,000 more US troops to Afghanistan - in addition to the 17,000 combat troops he ordered last month - to train the Afghan army. Instead of creating a national army, they will focus instead on the more modest goal of trying to turn ragtag militia groups into forces capable of providing protection against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

More emphasis is to be given to civilian projects, with the US to double its civilian contingent in the country to 900 to provide help with agriculture projects, small businesses and setting up a rudimentary judicial service.

The planners fear the war could become an election issue, as the mid-term Congressional elections in November next year draw near, and that Congress might be reluctant to fund the strategy.

The planners are also said to assume that the overall US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan has a working life of three to five years.

Public support for the strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US is seen as a crucial factor that could determine its fate.

Obama's new Afghanistan and Pakistan policy is to set out an achievable twin objective - one that will focus on stepping up the military offensive against terrorists wanting to attack Americans and the second to combine the military approach with projects aimed at winning Afghan and Pakistan hearts and minds. (ANI)

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