Holbrooke postpones trip to Swat Valley

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Islamabad, Aug.16 (ANI): U.S.President Barack Obama's Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke began an official visit to Pakistan on Sunday but heavy rain forced him to postpone a trip to the northwestern Swat Valley.

A US Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed this today, even as hundreds of thousands of refugees continue to return to the valley after the military declared that it was free of Taliban control.

On Saturday, Holbrooke praised the Pakistan Government for making 'very significant' progress in taking back key areas from the Taliban and said the US would provide more weapons for the fight against terrorists and insurgents, and badly needed economic aid.

Holbrooke had earlier cautioned Washington not to distance itself from former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying it would hamper US interests. He described the PML-N chief as a famous leader of the country.

"Nawaz Sharif is a popular leader and his party is ruling the largest province of Punjab. That's why, I believe, that distancing from Nawaz will not be in the interest of the US," Holbrooke said.

Talking to media persons on board the special aircraft enroute to Islamabad, Holbrooke said the US would not force the Pakistan Government to launch a military offensive in Waziristan, saying it was up to the country's leadership to decide what it wants to do.

Holbrooke said the success of the Swat military offensive would not be ascertained until he himself visits the region to judge the on ground realities.

"I cannot tell whether the Taliban were destroyed or dispersed as a result of this operation until I go myself over there and talk to the people on ground but one thing was quite obvious that security forces regained Swat and Buner from Taliban which itself was very significant," The News quoted Holbrooke, as saying. (ANI)

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