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US hopes for more Pakistan action against Taliban


New Delhi : Sharing India’s concerns over surging violence in the AfPak region, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke Monday said he hoped for “more action” from Pakistan in tackling the “ruthless and desperate” Taliban, and blamed the militia for the latest explosion in Kabul.

Holbrooke, US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Monday met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and discussed their approach towards the London conference on Afghanistan set for Jan 28.

The conference will be co-hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Holbrooke shared with Krishna his discussions with the leaders in the Af-Pak region. “I have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I was reporting on my trip and soliciting views and opinions of India,” he said after meeting Krishna.

Holbrooke flew in here from Islamabad Sunday on a two-day visit for consultations with the Indian leadership on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

The envoy stressed that the spread of Taliban in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province areas was the “main subject” of discussion with the Pakistani leadership during his visit there last week.

“Of course, we have. That was the main subject of our discussion with Pakistan,” he told reporters here when asked whether he had raised the issue of a surge in Taliban’s activities in the NWFP.

Holbrooke, however, added that the US was “very encouraged” by the actions taken by Pakistan in the Swat region.

“I was in Swat a few days ago and I was very impressed with the progress in South Waziristan. But there are other issues that we have talked about, which I hope will see more actions on,” he said.

Holbrooke praised India’s role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and its crucial role in promoting regional stability.

“India is a tremendously important participant in search for peace and stability not only in South Asia but throughout the vast region that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Pacific,” he said.

Strongly condemning a wave of suicide blasts in the heart of the Afghan capital Monday morning, Holbrooke said it was the handiwork of extremist groups operating in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Well, it’s not surprising that the Taliban does this sort of thing. They are desperate people, they are ruthless,” Holbrooke, who is on a brief visit to India, told reporters when asked about Monday’s blasts in Kabul that killed five people and wounded 28 others.

“The people who are doing this will certainly not survive the attack, nor will they succeed. But we can expect this sort of thing on a regular basis…” he said.

“They are part of a set of extremist groups operating in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they do these desperate things all the time, everyone here in India knows,” he stressed.

A massive explosion shook the Afghan capital Monday at 11.20 a.m. amid a wave of gunfire and bomb attacks and clashes between Taliban-linked militants and security forces.