Holbrooke 'agnostic' over Pak's sudden change of policy against Taliban

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Washington, Mar.5 (ANI): Notwithstanding the recent surge in action against extremist commanders in Pakistan, President Obama's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke has said he is "agnostic" about whether Islamabad has actually turned decisively against the Afghan Taliban.

In an interview to The Financial Times, Holbrooke said he is unable to judge whether Pakistan's policy against the Afghan Taliban, which was created by Islamabad itself, has really changed.

"Everyone has asked the same question. How do you know? Have we turned a corner? I'm not prepared to make those judgments, and you'll have to ask the Pakistanis that. I'm an agnostic at this point as to whether this was a policy change (by Islamabad) or a serendipitous collection of discreet events."

Responding to a question regarding the arrest of Afghan Taliban's second in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar from Karachi, Holbrooke said he has "no problems" with the Lahore High Court's denial to extradite the Taliban commander to Afghanistan.

When asked about President Obama's proposed pull out from Afghanistan next year, he said the plan to start pulling out from the region from July 2011 would go as per the schedule.

"Some people have either wilfully or through ignorance misrepresented that as the withdrawal date. It's the beginning of withdrawals at a pace and size [to be] determined by the situation," Holbrooke said.

He also admitted that US and allied forces are facing a "daunting" task in Afghanistan and "it is much too early" to predict the outcome of the struggle.

"You can't occupy every piece of terrain, so the real key is building and transferring control to the Afghan security forces. It's much too early. I'm not ready to predict how it is going to turn out because it is a difficult challenge," Holbrooke said. (ANI)

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