"Crunch time" for Pak to act following Obama raising concern about terror safe havens

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Washington, Dec.3 (ANI): President Barack Obama's revamped Afghan strategy and his clear cut talks highlighting the presence of terror safe havens on Pakistani soil has probably for the first time delivered a message to Islamabad that it is time it starts acting against those terror sanctuaries.

According to analysts, following Obama's specific talk about Al-Qaeda's leadership's presence in Pakistan, the onus is now on Islamabad, which has until now remained in a state of denial.

"For the first time, Obama was very categorical about these safe havens and sanctuaries. It's now going to be much more difficult for those in Pakistan who have been in a state of denial about it," The Washington Post quoted analyst Ahmed Rashid, as saying.

"It's really crunchtime," Rashind added.

Pakistan fears that the massive surge in Afghanistan would result in the spill over of Afghan guerrilla fighters into Pakistan, deteriorating the situation inside the country further.

The Obama administration's decision to send in more troops has Pakistan under conflicting political pressures. While the US wants to eliminate al-Qaeda sanctuaries along the Afghan border, the Army is focused on rooting out the Taliban, which has wrecked havoc in the country in the recent past.

"Our military and civilian leaders need to speak with one voice, so the Americans can see we mean business. But we have to keep our own long-term interests in mind, while taking on the extremist groups that are of concern to them," said Imtiaz Gul, a political analyst.

Despite President Obama's opinion that Pakistan and Afghanistan face a 'commom enemy' and the US offering billions of dollar in aid to help Islamabad overcome the current chaotic condition, a majority of Pakistanis blame Washington itself for the mess, experts believe.

"The U.S. is seen as an occupier in Afghanistan, and there's no way that can be turned around. A Taliban victory in Afghanistan would be 'terrible for Pakistan,' but that the United States had created the problem and must clean up the mess before it leaves," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, Islamabad based nuclear physicist and defence analyst.

Hikmet Karzai, Director of the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul, said the addition of troops would not help resolve the issue, but would only aggravate the conflict.

Karzai said the problem would persist for years to come, unless both Pakistan and Afghanistan discuss the actual cause of the trouble.

"Unless we really solve the challenge and the issue of Pakistan, I think you can bring in 50,000 more soldiers, 100,000 more soldiers, but in my view we will still have this problem. I think we're going to be in this mess for a very long time," Karzai said. (ANI)

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