Obama administration deeply concerned about Pakistan

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Washington, Dec 3(ANI): U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday may have focused on his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but it also pointed out the administration's deeper concern about Pakistan.

Obama spoke of the two countries' long and rugged border region as the "epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al-Qaeda" that continues to threaten the US, and went on saying that the dangers in allowing the region to "slide backwards" into becoming a haven for extremists "are even greater with a nuclear-armed Pakistan."

But left largely unsaid was the extent to which the new strategy for Afghanistan also means a ratcheting up of resources for - and pressures on - Pakistan, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Bruce Riedel, a South Asia expert who co-chaired Obama's initial interagency review of Afghanistan-Pakistan policy last winter, said: "From the beginning, Pakistan has always had primacy in this President's thinking about things."

Numerous officials from the Obama administration including national security adviser, James Jones, have traveled to Islamabad recently to lay out plans for stepped-up intelligence operations and military assistance.

Obama also said that the Pakistani military is beginning to pursue Taliban extremists who have found refuge in border provinces as a "hopeful sign" and pointed to an ongoing offensive in South Waziristan, as well as to an earlier operation in the Swat Valley.

Providing the Pakistani military with the air power it needs to successfully root out the extremist havens would be a key first step toward putting the military on the US side, says Riedel. (ANI)

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