New Afghan war strategy unveiled; U.S. vows to wipe out terrorists from Pakistan

Al-Qaeda is a “cancer” that can devour Pakistan

India has a key stake in the region’s security

Washington: United States President Barack Obama on Friday bluntly told Pakistan that a “blank cheque” could not be given if it did not show commitment to eliminate the Al-Qaeda within its border.

Unveiling a sweeping new Afghan war strategy, Mr. Obama vowed to wipe out terrorists from safe havens in Pakistan, and identified India, Russia and China as among the countries having a stake in the security of the region.

“And after years of mixed results we will not and cannot provide a blank cheque. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out the Al-Qaeda and violent extremists within its border,” Mr. Obama said.

He described the Al-Qaeda as a “cancer” that could devour Pakistan.

“The U.S. must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan to lessen tensions between the nuclear-armed nations that often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation,” he said.

Mr. Obama said he would plunge 4,000 more U.S. troops into the unfinished war, triple U.S. aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over five years, attempt to peel away more moderate Taliban factions and lead a global civilian surge to Afghanistan.

Describing the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border region as the “most dangerous place in the world” and the situation in Afghanistan as “increasingly perilous,” Mr. Obama said multiple intelligence estimates warned that the Al-Qaeda was actively planning attacks on the U.S. from its safe havens in Pakistan.

He warned that if Pakistan did not act on intelligence on the whereabouts of terrorists, the U.S. would.

A report from Islamabad said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed Mr. Obama’s initiatives. He said Pakistan always held its relations with the U.S. in “high esteem” and Mr. Obama’s announcements on the new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan would further cement the ties between the two countries. — Agencies

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